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Pidgins and creoles are typically depicted as involving an unusually high degree of variation. This is also often taken to be indicative of a lack of proper grammatical structuring and language-hood. Variation is presented as an obstacle to standardization and for exclusion from official domains, particularly formal education. For speakers, creoles represent the ‘voice of truth’, convey belonging and are often the main means of communication. Pidgins and creoles were eventually allowed into formal contexts due to pragmatic considerations such as for proselyting and for the mitigation of educational problems rather than identity-based considerations. This has acted as an important catalyst for their wider recognition. Discussions about how to deal with variation continue to hamper processes of standardization and implementation, however. This chapter reviews approaches to and issues in the standardization of creoles and discusses the ongoing standardization of Nenge(e) (Eastern Maroon Creoles) in French Guiana. It is argued that variation is integral to all languages and can be accommodated once pluricentric norms and wider notions of literacy are adopted. Careful attention to language ideologies, including views about variation, are crucial for successful acceptance and use of the outcomes of standardization.
Proposing a new methodological approach to documenting languages spoken in multilingual societies, this book retraces the investigation of one unique linguistic space, the Creole varieties referred to as Takitaki in multilingual French Guiana. It illustrates how interactional sociolinguistic, anthropological linguistic, discourse analytical and quantitative sociolinguistic approaches can be integrated with structural approaches to language in order to resolve rarely discussed questions systematically (what are the outlines of the community, who is a rightful speaker, what speech should be documented) that frequently crop up in projects of language documentation in multilingual contexts. The authors argue that comprehensively documenting complex linguistic phenomena requires taking into account the views of all local social actors (native and non-native speakers, institutions, linguists, non-speakers, etc.), applying a range of complementary data collection and analysis methods and putting issues of ideology, variation, language contact and interaction centre stage. This book will be welcomed by researchers in sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, fieldwork studies, language documentation and language variation and change.