Creole grammars and acquisition of syntax: The case of Haitian

Michel Anne Frederic Degraff, University of Pennsylvania


The Haitian language emerged around the XVII century from the contact between French and a few African languages (the majority of the latter from West-Africa, the most influential being perhaps Ewe and Fon). The main objective of this dissertation is to study various syntactic properties of Haitian within the principles-and-parameters framework. In addition to its intrinsic descriptive importance, a detailed syntactic study of Haitian will advance our understanding of the still controversial nature of the creolization process. Aspects of Haitian syntax receiving scrutiny include its status as a null-subject language, its Tense-Mood-Aspect system, its long-distance subject extraction properties, its serial verb constructions, the patterns through which the language expresses predication, the properties of its sentential negation marker, the presence of a resumptive non-verbal pro-predicate, etc. Beyond contributing to the elucidation of Haitian syntax and of some larger, theoretical issues, the present work views a subset of the above characteristics as diachronically intriguing: they instantiate properties through which Haitian appears to differ from both its superstrate and its major substrates. Using insights from these analyses, I briefly investigate possible links between processes of syntax acquisition and the genesis of Creole grammars.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Degraff, Michel Anne Frederic, "Creole grammars and acquisition of syntax: The case of Haitian" (1992). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9308555.