Society for Linguistic Anthropology
In 2011, Neumann-Holzschuh published an edited collection of early twentieth-century Master’s theses on Louisiana Creole, making readily available to researchers substantive documentation of the language as spoken a hundred years ago. Containing rich linguistic and cultural content as well as important demographic information about the speakers whom the authors interviewed, this work offers linguists an exceptional opportunity to explore the historical development of Louisiana Creole. In her introduction to the collection, Neumann-Holzschuh takes significant steps in this direction, showing, for example, how the contents of the theses can contribute to the debate about whether or not Louisiana had multiple geneses (Speedy 1995; Klingler 2000). More recently, Mayeux (2017) compared the data from the theses representing the Creole of the Bayou Teche region to those from nineteenth-century Creole texts, on the one hand, and to his own data gathered in the field, on the other, in order to assess the extent to which “decreolization” through contact with Louisiana French has occurred. In this paper I further pursue the use of the collected theses for the diachronic study of Louisiana Creole, focusing on the evolution of the language as spoken by blacks and whites in Pointe Coupee Parish. By comparing the data from two theses representing the Creole of this region to field data collected there more recently, I show that what appears to have originally been a single language variety split, in the course of the twentieth century, into two ethnolects distinguished by phonetic, morphosyntactic, and lexical features.