Jamaica, Guyana, Belize, and Trinidad, among others), a language continuum (5) formed by a basilect
If I am right in thinking that what is referred to here as Georgetown creole had different linguistic inputs and developed within a different socio-cultural milieu from the language varieties in the rest of Guyana, and if the linguistic consequence of this mix were different from the linguistic systems in general use in the rest of the country, then it cannot be reasonable to refer to Georgetown Creole English as a decreolization of a basilect
which developed in the same country.
between creole and standard poles" (Rickford 2): some speak primarily or exclusively in the heavy or "basilect
" form; most switch codes easily and frequently, using intermediate, "mesolect" forms; one or two others use the "acrolect" or standard English form.
Safa (1987) further states that the, "idea that the cultural identity of Caribbean peoples is somehow problematic has been around for so long and been upheld by such a variety of writers that it has become almost an axiom (115)." Most of the former BWI has a bicultural, bilingual heritage with the 'high' culture as Anglo-European-based, whose mode of expression is Standard English, and the 'low' culture as Afro-Creole, whose mode of expression has historically been a basilect
English Creole (Barnes 2006).
Luis's production tends toward a mesolect, although he also exhibits a "deep" or basilect
variety in some instances.
In contrast, the basilect
(known as Jamaican Creole) contains "the greatest number of West African retentions, [is] spoken mostly in rural areas, and [is] associated with working-class speakers" (Wassink and Dyer 15).
anglicized, acrolect, mesolect and basilect
) or on the basis of their first language or mother tongue background as in Raza (2008).
What is unusual and interesting about the creole continuum is that there is a spectrum of speech varieties ranging from the conservative creole (the basilect
), to the intermediate creolized varieties (the mesolect), to the standard variety of English (the acrolect), a phenomenon which gives rise to a great deal of linguistic fluidity, that is, any variable, whether it be phonological, morphological, or syntactic, can have as its variants, features that are identifiable with the conservative creole variety (basilectal features), features identified with the Standard English variety (acrolectal), and several other intermediate variants diagnostic of the mid-range zone of the continuum (mesolectal features).
The introductory chapter contains a brief presentation of useful but very often problematic terminology to be used in the book (language, dialect, acrolect, basilect
, mesolect, creole, etc.).
"Solibo used the four facets of our diglossia," he writes: "the Creole basilect
and acrolect, the French basilect
and acrolect, quivering, vibrating, rooted in an interlectal space that I thought to be our more exact socio-linguistic reality."
Hence, to designate the nationally prestigious spoken American English, the term acrolect is used in contrast to the term basilect
and mesolect which refer to the less prestigious varieties.
In a characteristic image, Chamoiseau, following Jean Bernabe, has likened acrolectal French and basilectal creole to two contiguous mangrove swamps linked by intermediary mangrove where interlectal exchanges between acrolect and basilect
takes place and where an "intermediary creole" (an Kreyol mitannye) is constantly in the process of being formed and reformed, combining and recombining elements drawn from the other two mangroves into ever-changing syncretic patterns.