Journal of Ibero-Romance Creoles


Volume 9 (2019)

The history of sentence negation in the Gulf of Guinea Creoles 

Tom Güldemann & Tjerk Hagemeijer

We discuss the emergence of the cross-linguistically marked discontinuous/final negation pattern in the four Gulf of Guinea Creoles by taking into account the different linguistic strata and their structural profiles that contributed to the formation of the protolanguage, in particular southern Nigerian and western Bantu languages. While the phonetic source of the final negation marker (fa/f/wa~va) in the creoles remains unclear, we argue that its syntax and functions, which also include emphasis, show a strong parallel with utterance-final markers in the contributing African languages. Although the trigger of these patterns should be sought in the earliest African contribution from Nigeria, their entrenchment and full grammaticalization can be attributed to heavy secondary contact with languages of the Kongo Bantu cluster.

Keywords: Gulf of Guinea Creoles, sentence negation, substrate influence, Benue-Congo languages, areal typology.

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