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Language Myths and the History of English$
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Richard J. Watts

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195327601

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195327601.001.0001

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The construction of a modern myth: Middle English as a creole

The construction of a modern myth: Middle English as a creole

Chapter:
(p.83) Chapter 4 The construction of a modern myth: Middle English as a creole
Source:
Language Myths and the History of English
Author(s):

Richard J. Watts (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195327601.003.0004

One recently constructed myth—which has now gone beyond the confines of academia—is the English‐as‐a‐creole myth, which assumes that Middle English is best looked at as a creole created by intensive language contact between speakers of Anglo‐Norman and Central French and speakers of English. The chapter surveys the arguments for and against this hypothesis, which extends further back in time to include language contact between Anglo‐Saxon and various forms of Old Norse. The central argument is that the language contact situations in which early forms of English were involved represent koinëisation and new dialect (or variety) formation rather than creole formation. To support this argument data are provided from texts originating in the Danelaw part of England which reveal gradual changes in English since the time of Old English/Old Norse contact in the ninth century till the late thirteenth century, all of which argues against the English‐as‐a‐creole hypothesis.

Keywords:   creoles, new dialect formation, language contact, koinëisation, English‐as‐a‐creole‐myth

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