The Case for Afrogenesis (OP No.33, July 2006)
The Afrogenesis of Caribbean Creole Proverbs (OP No. 34, July 2006)

ALLSOPP, S.R. Richard , edited, with a Preface by John R. Rickford .

Abstract: Allsopp begins his legendary (1976) Afrogenesis article by noting that African linguistic influence in Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries in the New World (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Curaçao) has long been studied and recognised, but that this has been much less the case in the anglophone and francophone Caribbean (the creoles of Suriname are an exception). He then critiques the contemporaneously more popular hypothesis that the anglophone and francophone varieties were relexified versions of a simplified Portuguese pidgin. He closes his paper with lexicosemantic and grammatical evidence that Caribbean creoles, regardless of lexical base, show remarkable parallels with each other and with sub-Saharan languages. He argues that this evidence, along with evidence of similar parallels in proverbs, shows that the African linguistic substrate played a significant role in the formation and development of Caribbean creoles.

ERRATUM: Page 6 (third line of last paragraph): "West African creoles" should be "West Atlantic creoles" (cf. page 45 in OP #34).

The Afrogenesis of Caribbean Creole Proverbs (OP No.34, July 2006).

Abstract: In this paper, Professor Allsopp extends his (1976) argument for the Afrogenesis of Caribbean creoles by considering the evidence of proverbs in more detail. Pointing to striking similarities between proverbs from more than twenty-two sub-Saharan African languages and more than a dozen Caribbean creoles (anglophone and francophone), he argues that these similarities reveal that the creole speakers have retained—through calquing or systemic transfer—the underlying conceptualisation of their African ancestors. These similarities also challenge the assumption of Bickerton's bioprogramme hypothesis and francophone superstratists that African substrates played little or no role in the development of Caribbean creoles. In closing, Allsopp suggests that scholars should pay more attention to paremiography and paremiology, the collection and study of proverbs, since the latter encapsulate the thinking of our forebears, and preserve the morphology, semantics and idiomaticity of earlier times. He also proposes that the Society for Caribbean Linguistics reach out to teachers and the masses in every Caribbean territory more than we have thus far, supporting and seeking support from them in our study of words, proverbs, and other aspects of language.

ERRATUM: Page 46 (paragraph beginning Paremiography, fifth line): the word "re-occupation" should be "recognition".

About the Author

S.R. RICHARD ALLSOPP , Honorary Professor of Linguistics at The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill , is one of the most distinguished and longest serving scholars in Linguistics in the English-official Caribbean. His 1958 Master's thesis and his 1962 PhD thesis, both University of London, examined pronouns and tense-aspect systems respectively in his native Guyanese Creole, utilising fieldwork strategies, vernacular data, and quantitative analyses that are generally acknowledged to have been ahead of their time. Professor Allsopp is perhaps best known for his monumental Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage (Oxford University Press, 1996, later UWI Press, 2003, with a French and Spanish supplement edited by his wife Jeannette Allsopp, also on staff at The UWI, Cave Hill). But he has written noteworthy articles on other aspects of Caribbean creoles over the years, on subjects ranging from suprasegmentals to Afrogenesis, and his more recent book-length publication, A Book of Afric Caribbean Proverbs (Arawak Publications, 2004) is also destined to become a classic. He received the Degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) from The UWI, Cave Hill in 2003. Professor Allsopp is a founding member of the Society for Caribbean Linguistics, its second president, and was elected an Honorary member of the Society in 1994.


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