Language Creation and Language Change

From Learning, Development, and Conceptual Change

Language Creation and Language Change

Creolization, Diachrony, and Development

Edited by Michel DeGraff

Bradford Books





Research on creolization, language change, and language acquisition has been converging toward a triangulation of the constraints along which grammatical systems develop within individual speakers—and (viewed externally) across generations of speakers. The originality of this volume is in its comparison of various sorts of language development from a number of linguistic-theoretic and empirical perspectives, using data from both speech and gestural modalities and from a diversity of acquisition environments. In turn, this comparison yields fresh insights on the mental bases of language creation. The book is organized into five parts: creolization and acquisition; acquisition under exceptional circumstances; language processing and syntactic change; parameter setting in acquisition and through creolization and language change; and a concluding part integrating the contributors' observations and proposals into a series of commentaries on the state of the art in our understanding of language development, its role in creolization and diachrony, and implications for linguistic theory.

ContributorsDany Adone, Derek Bickerton, Adrienne Bruyn, Marie Coppola, Michel DeGraff, Viviane Déprez, Alison Henry, Judy Kegl, David Lightfoot, John S. Lumsden, Salikoko S. Mufwene, Pieter Muysken, Elissa L. Newport, Luigi Rizzi, Ian Roberts, Ann Senghas, Rex A. Sprouse, Denise Tangney, Anne Vainikka, Barbara S. Vance, Maaike Verrips

Bradford Books imprint


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262041683 583 pp. | 7 in x 10 in 4 illus.


$50.00 X ISBN: 9780262541268 583 pp. | 7 in x 10 in 4 illus.


Michel DeGraff

Michel DeGraff is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


  • Language Creation and Language Change provides a stimulating discussion of the relationship between Creole languages and language development. It contains a variety of viewpoints and a wealth of empirical material concerning this fascinating problem. The volume illuminates and connects work in a variety of fields—from developmental psycholinguistics to linguistic theory to Creole studies to historical linguistics. DeGraff does much to integrate the contributions.

    Ken Wexler

    Professor of Psychology and Linguistics, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, MIT

  • For decades, linguists have taken it for granted that the process of creolization should serve as a bridge between theories of language acquisition and theories of language change. However, until now no single volume had ever attempted to tie all three issues together, nor to explore the implications of their mutual interaction for the nature of grammar. Michel DeGraff's Language Creation and Language Change does all of this and more. Each of the 15 contributions, written by the world's leading creolists and generative grammarians, breaks new theoretical ground. The field owes DeGraff a resounding 'thank you', not only for assembling an anthology of such remarkably high quality, but for his own skillful commentary that both synthesizes and critiques the diverse opinions that the authors present in their individual contributions.

    Frederick J. Newmeyer

    Professor and Chair, Department of Linguistics, University of Washington

  • This book represents an impressive range of informative reports onthe development of languages through change, creolization, andcreation, including the important story of the emergence of SignLanguage in Nicaragua, a major event in the lives of the peopleaffected and in the history of scientific language scholarship.

    Kenneth L. Hale

    Ferrari P. Ward Professor of Modern Languages andLinguistics, Linguistic Theory, Amerindian and Australian Languages,Massachusetts Institute of Technology