The creoleness of Unserdeutsch (Rabaul Creole German): A typological perspective

Lindenfelser, Siegwalt Alexander; Maitz, Péter (2017). The creoleness of Unserdeutsch (Rabaul Creole German): A typological perspective. In: Maitz, Péter; Volker, Craig A. (eds.) Language Contact in the German Colonies: Papua New Guinea and beyond. Special issue of Language and Linguistics in Melanesia (pp. 91-142). Journal of the Linguistic Society of Papua New Guinea

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In this paper, we discuss to what extent the German-based contact language Unserdeutsch (Rabaul Creole German, cf. Volker 1982) matches the category ‘creole language’ from both a socio-historical and structural perspective. As a point of reference, we will use typological criteria that are widely supposed to be typical for creole languages. It is shown that Unserdeutsch fits fairly well into the pattern of an ‘average creole’, as has been suggested by data in the Atlas of Pidgin and Creole Language Structures (Michaelis et al. 2013). This is despite a series of atypical conditions in its development that might lead us to expect a close structural proximity to the lexifier language, i.e. a relatively acrolectal creole. A possible explanation for this striking discrepancy can be found in the primary function of Unserdeutsch as a marker of identity as well as in the linguistic structure of its substrate language Tok Pisin.

Item Type:

Book Section (Further Contribution)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of Germanic Languages

UniBE Contributor:

Lindenfelser, Siegwalt Alexander and Maitz, Péter


400 Language > 410 Linguistics
400 Language > 430 German & related languages




Journal of the Linguistic Society of Papua New Guinea




Péter Maitz

Date Deposited:

03 Dec 2018 10:57

Last Modified:

11 Dec 2019 01:27

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Creole languages, German-based, language universals, language structure, linguistic typology, Rabaul Creole German, Unserdeutsch




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