Documenting unserdeutsch: reversing colonial amnesia

Maitz, Péter, and Volker, Craig Alan (2017) Documenting unserdeutsch: reversing colonial amnesia. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages, 32 (2). pp. 365-397.

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Abstract

Unserdeutsch, also known as Rabaul Creole German, is the only known German-lexifier creole. This critically endangered language has its origins in an orphanage in German New Guinea for mixed-race children, where Standard German was taught by mission personnel. Unserdeutsch was creolised in one generation, and became the in-group language of a small mixed-race community. It is now spoken by around 100 elderly speakers, nearly all immigrants to Australia. The current project is only the second documentation based on actual fieldwork and has a specific focus on the use and vitality of the language as used by the last generation of speakers. It has the aim of producing an Unserdeutsch corpus that will facilitate both future linguistic research and contact with the language for the descendants of Unserdeutsch speakers. Preliminary findings show variation among speakers along a continuum from heavily creolised basilect to an almost European German acrolect. Most of the lexicon is derived from German, while a number of basilectal grammatical constructions are the result of the loss of marked features in German and possible imperfect second language learning as well as relexification of Tok Pisin, the presumed substrate language.

Item ID: 52477
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1569-9870
Keywords: unserdeutsch, Rabaul Creole German, Tok Pisin, German, Papua New Guinea, creole, pidgin, endangered languages, relexification, language, documentation
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2018 05:04
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2004 Linguistics > 200408 Linguistic Structures (incl Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture @ 100%
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