Tid: Torsdag 26 februari 2015, kl. 15:00–17:00
Plats: C389, Södra huset, Frescati

Postseminarium följer direkt efter seminariet i institutionens pentry.

This study explores the semantics of urban Bislama, an English-related creole language spoken in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu (Meyerhoff 2013; Vandeputte-Tavo 2013; Willans 2011). The case study provides a detailed overview of the lexical semantics of emotion words in creole Bislama, with a special emphasis on innovation and areal influences. The study opens up broader discussions about the intersection between creolistics, semantics, and emotion studies. It raises a series of new questions: How do creole words capture “emotion”? What happens to the “emotion domain” in the process of creolization? In what ways can creole languages help us advance the linguistic search for “emotional universals”? The paper discusses the concept of “innovation”, and explores the different ways in which this term can be useful conceptual tool for them emerging field of creole semantics (Stanwood 1997, 1999; Priestley 2008; Nicholls 2013; Levisen & Priestley, in press, Levisen & Jogie , in press). The study is based on a) linguistic fieldwork and semantic consultations with young speakers in Port Vila and b) meaning-in-context analysis of postings on Yumi Toktok Stret, a Facebook group with 14.000 members, the largest Bislama-driven online forum. The analysis of Bislama provide an overview of the type of words, including both descriptive emotion words such as kros (from English ‘cross’), les (from English ‘lazy’), sem (from English ‘shame’), body-based words such as jamjam (from English ‘jump-jump’), and seksek (from English ‘shake-shake’), and emotive interjections. The paper provides a model study on how to do approach the emotional semantics of a creole language, equipped with tools from cross-linguistic studies on emotions. It concludes that Bislama semantics has an emotional profile, which is neither like colonial English, contemporary English, or like traditional languages of Melanesia, but that it stands for a neo-Melanesian semantics, which in itself is an innovation, created out creolization and postcolonial developments.


Ljuba Veselinova