Tense, Aspect and Modality in Bastimentos Creole English

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Heidi Reid


This study has one main aim, which is to ascertain how the semantic categories of tense-aspect-modality (TMA) are expressed in a lesser-known Caribbean Creole variety, Bastimentos Creole English (BCE). It presents an analysis of TMA markers in BCE and their interaction, as well as exploring the functions of the unmarked verb, on the basis of cross-linguistic discussions of tense-aspect-modality subcategories from different theoretical angles. Semantic areas such as continuative aspect and counter-presupposition prove particularly interesting based on typological generalisations. The motivations behind this synchronic description of BCE is to put the language into its linguistic and regional context by making some comparisons with other English Creole varieties in the Caribbean. This is of interest since Ethnologue assigns the same language ISO classification code (International Organisation for Standardisation) to both Jamaican Creole (JC) and BCE. The findings presented here challenge to some extent the basic idea that BCE is no different from JC. This study sets out from the beginning to treat BCE as a language in its own right. Semantic areas in which BCE differs to JC are past tense, habitual aspect, and non-epistemic possibility, amongst others. The second motivation is to document an endangered vernacular that receives no official identification as a language, other than a general English-based Creole in Panama (which is the identification given both by UNESCO and Ethnologue), and to ascertain to what extent BCE is an endangered language based on the evaluations of the degree of vitality provided by these official bodies. A final motivation is to challenge the idea that creole languages are simpler than noncreole languages. In this respect, it is important that detailed studies of grammatical systems of more creole languages continue to be carried out, in order to address naïve views of the structure and genesis of creoles.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date1 Aug 2020