Arguments against a british dialect source for um in bajan english creole

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In their diachronic investigation of the early textual evidence for Anglophone Barbadian Creole, Rickford and Handler (1994) discuss the use of um as the third person neuter pronoun. They state that the use of this pronominal form in both subject and object position is a “characteristically Bajan feature” whose first attested textual usage dates back to 1835 (Rickford and Handler, 1994, p. 243). Rickford and Handler also claim that this feature of early Barbadian English Creole is one that may clearly have a British dialect source. The evidence they provide in support of their claim is a brief passage from Niles (1980, p. 116), “… the third person um is now used in DE [British Dialect English] both for the nominative and objective singular neuter as in BE [Barbadian English]. But the form was of wider usage in the dialects, particularly in Devon.”

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-363
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pidgin and Creole Languages
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


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