English-based tongue with Oceanic flavour:A Comparison of Pronouns and Agreement Marking in Bislama and Raga
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis explores the pronominal and agreement marking systems of the Bislama and Raga languages. A feature characteristic of the Bislama language, which has been subject to a great deal of debate, is pronoun doubling and trebling. The debate has centred on what syntactic categories ought to be given to the pronominal elements in pronoun doubling and trebling constructions and it has been proposed that the preverbal "mi" is either the genuine subject pronoun or the agreement marker. Using questionnaire and conversational data obtained from speakers of Raga and Bislama, I argue that the preverbal "mi" in pronoun doubling and trebling constructions is becoming an agreement marker. Thus, we are seeing a regularisation of the Bislama agreement marking paradigm in which agreement markers are extending into 1SG and 2SG persons. While regularisation of the agreement marking paradigm and grammatical reanalysis have been argued to be features of creolisation, I demonstrate that although pronoun trebling may be associated with creolisation, it is not necessarily a feature that distinguishes speakers who occupy different points in the creole continuum.