Journal of Ibero-Romance Creoles

Volume 6 (2015)

Variable Papiamentu pluralization strategies in a written corpus

Margaret Glide & J. Clancy Clements (Indiana University)

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Variable noun phrase (NP) pluralization in Papiamentu has been described by researchers such as Dijkhoff (1980, 1983, 1993) and Kester & Schmitt (2007). In these studies, there is general agreement that definiteness correlates with overt plural marking (presence of -nan) and the presence of a quantifier in an NP with no overt plural marking (absence of -nan). Kester & Schmitt (2007) suggest that animacy has no effect on the presence/absence of -nan and that this morpheme might mark discourse-specific (as in discourse-old) information. In this study, we test these descriptive accounts with a variationist analysis of NP pluralization in Papiamentu using a corpus compiled from newspapers published in Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao. In our corpus, we test the effect quantifiers, definiteness, animacy, and discourse status have on overt pluralization. We corroborate the observations of previous researchers that definiteness favors the presence of -nan, while quantifiers disfavor it. Moreover, we find that animacy also favors the presence of -nan, but that discourse status shows no consistent pattern in our data.

Keywords: Papiamentu, information structure, noun phrase, pluralization, quantitative analysis