Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 September 2021
This chapter revisits the question of creole distinctiveness, i.e. the idea that creoles constitute a special type of language, not just historically but also structurally. It first sketches the two most influential proposals claiming creole uniqueness, i.e. Bickerton’s Language Bioprogram Hypothesis (1981) and McWhorter’s Creole Prototype (2005), and outlines some of the criticism that has been levelled against them. It then discusses the recent shift in research approaches from deductive to inductive, which represents an enormous progress in the understanding of creole distinctiveness while also raising new issues, such as sample size and bias as well as feature selection. The chapter then looks at how English-based pidgins and creoles can be separated from their lexifier. The comparison focuses on the expression of perfect, perfective, and other past-reference verb situations across a set of thirty English-lexifier pidgins, creoles, and other high-contact varieties, and the resulting variety clusters not only correlate with geographical distribution and sociohistorical evidence but also align easily with those described in other studies, both traditional and recent quantitative.