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Kouwenberg, S.

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Silvia Kouwenberg

Silvia Kouwenberg, born in Alkmaar, the Netherlands, in 1960. Ph.D. from the University of Amsterdam. Senior Lecturer in Linguistics at the University of the West-Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica.

Fellow (1 September 1999 - 30 June 2000)

I spent my year at NIAS preparing publications in three main areas of research on Caribbean Creole languages:

  • Issues of markedness in the identification of Creole properties which may be considered candidates for substratist explanations: I have developed an evaluation metric which defines markedness in terms of formal complexity, semantic complexity and distributional complexity. Application of this evaluation metric to a specific case, that of reduplication in Caribbean Creole languages, has yielded new insights in the properties of reduplicative processes in these languages. It has, further, allowed classification of these processes into (relatively) marked and unmarked instantiations, making it possible to pinpoint candidates for transfer of a substrate model. Some of this work was carried out in collaboration with Darlene LaCharité (Laval University, Québec), resulting in journal articles. Additionally, I edited a collection of papers on reduplication in contact languages during the nias year.
  • Formal aspects of individual Caribbean Creole languages: I prepared publications on Berbice Dutch Creole in the areas of syntax and the effects of language death, and on Papiamentu in the areas of syntax and phonology.
  • Sociolinguistics of Caribbean Creole languages: I prepared a publication on the sociolinguistic situation of the Dutch-speaking Caribbean (in collaboration with linguists from Curaçao and Suriname), and have embarked on further work on the modern status of Caribbean Creole languages in their societies.


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