A lexifier is the language that provides the basis for the majority of a pidgin or creole language's vocabulary (lexicon).[1] Often this language is also the dominant, or superstrate language, though this is not always the case, as can be seen in the historical Mediterranean Lingua Franca.[2] In mixed languages, there are no superstrates or substrates, but instead two or more adstrates. One adstrate still contributes the majority of the lexicon in most cases, and would be considered the lexifier. However, it is not the dominant language, as there are none in the development of mixed languages, such as in Michif.[1]


Pidgin and creole language names are often written as the following: Location spoken + Stage of Development + Lexifier language. For example: Malaysian Creole Portuguese, with Portuguese being the lexifier and the superstrate language at the time of the creole development.[1]

Often the autoglossonym, or the name the speakers give their contact language, is written Broken + Lexifier, e.g. Broken English. This becomes confusing when multiple contact languages have the same lexifier, as different languages could be called the same name by their speakers. Hence, the names are as stated above in the literature to reduce this confusion.[1]


The word lexifier is derived from the modern Latin word lexicon, meaning a catalogue of the vocabulary or units in a given language.[3][failed verification]



  1. ^ a b c d e Velupillai, Viveka (2015). Pidgins, Creoles and Mixed Languages. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 519. ISBN 978-90-272-5272-2.
  2. ^ Rachel, Selbach. "2. The superstrate is not always the lexifier: Lingua Franca in the Barbary Coast 1530-1830". Creole Language Library: 29–58.
  3. ^ "lexicon, n.". OED Online. Oxford University Press. December 2018. Retrieved 2018-12-29.
  4. ^ Gleibermann, Erik (2018). "Inside the Bilingual Writer". World Literature Today. 92 (3): 30–34. doi:10.7588/worllitetoda.92.3.0030. JSTOR 10.7588/worllitetoda.92.3.0030.
  5. ^ "Mobile Versus Fixed Bearing Medial Unicompartmental Knee Arthroplasty: A Series of 375 Patients". doi:10.15438/rr.5.1.28. Cite journal requires |journal=
  6. ^ "Nicaragua Creole English". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  7. ^ "Islander Creole English". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2018-10-19.
  8. ^ "Saint Lucian Creole French". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  9. ^ "Guianese Creole French".
  10. ^ "Haitian Creole". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  11. ^ "Louisiana Creole". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  12. ^ "Morisyen".
  13. ^ "Réunion Creole French".
  14. ^ Kouwenberg, Silvia (2005-01-01). "Marlyse Baptista. 2002. The Syntax of Cape Verdean Creole. The Sotavento Varieties". Studies in Language. 29 (1): 255–259. doi:10.1075/sl.29.1.19kou. ISSN 1569-9978.
  15. ^ Koontz-Garboden, Andrew J.; Clements, J. Clancy (2002-01-01). "Two Indo-Portuguese Creoles in contrast". Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages. 17 (2): 191–236. doi:10.1075/jpcl.17.2.03cle. ISSN 1569-9870.
  16. ^ Lipski, John M. (2012-04-11). "Remixing a mixed language: The emergence of a new pronominal system in Chabacano (Philippine Creole Spanish)". International Journal of Bilingualism. 17 (4): 448–478. doi:10.1177/1367006912438302. ISSN 1367-0069.
  17. ^ Lipski, John M. (2012). "Free at Last: From Bound Morpheme to Discourse Marker in Lengua ri Palenge (Palenquero Creole Spanish)". Anthropological Linguistics. 54 (2): 101–132. doi:10.1353/anl.2012.0007. JSTOR 23621075.
  18. ^ Bakker, Peter (September 2014). "Three Dutch Creoles in Comparison". Journal of Germanic Linguistics. 26 (3): 191–222. doi:10.1017/S1470542714000063. ISSN 1475-3014.
  19. ^ Zeijlstra, Hedde; Goddard, Denice (2017-03-01). "On Berbice Dutch VO status". Language Sciences. 60: 120–132. doi:10.1016/j.langsci.2016.11.001. ISSN 0388-0001.
  20. ^ Sanders, Mark (2016-06-09). "Why are you Learning Zulu?". Interventions. 18 (6): 806–815. doi:10.1080/1369801x.2016.1196145. ISSN 1369-801X.

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