Committee: John Victor Singler (chair), Renee Blake, Gregory Guy, Peter Patrick, Richard Kayne and Chris Collins
This dissertation examines the Imperfective aspectual system of urban Bahamian Creole English (BahE), a mesolectal creole spoken in The Bahamas. Specifically, following Comrie (1976) I examine three Imperfective aspectual categories in the creole - continuous progressiveness (variable auxiliary be use with V-ing verbs and verbs in future constructions), continuous nonprogressiveness (variable '-s' inflection on verbs in non-past non-habitual contexts), and habituality (the use of overt creole and English habitual aspect markers, as well as zero, with verbs in habitual contexts). I also look at the plausibility of there being a Historical Present tense in urban BahE. Finally, I discuss the implications of this study for classifying urban BahE as a Caribbean English creole as opposed to a dialect of English.
The data for this study was analysed using Sankoff, Tagliamonte and Smith's (2005) Goldvarb X variable rule programme for Windows. The results of the four linguistic analyses show that urban BahE speakers primarily use a creole grammatical system. For example, the use of auxiliary be is extremely rare, particularly before creole future markers (go, gon, gəyn to 'going to') and progressive (V-ing) verbs. In addition, the urban BahE speakers in this study use more creole preverbal markers than English verbal '-s' in non-past third-singular contexts when marking verbs for habituality; similarly, they use the pseudo-creole marker useta more than English forms and English verbal inflections when marking past habitual verbs. The urban BahE informants also use more zero-marking than English verbal '-s' with third-singular subjects when marking habitual as well as nonhabitual verbs in non-past contexts. Moreover, they do not use the English Historical Present tense in past reference personal experience narratives.
Finally, based on the findings for individual speakers, I suggest that Rickford's (1987) "repertoire extension" theory of decreolisation is applicable in the Bahamian context because most Bahamians, including persons with a very good command of standard English, typically use BahE in casual situations but use more standard features in formal situations. That is, it appears as if urban BahE speakers acquire standard English features without losing creole ones.