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Joy Peltier presents "Language in Context and in Contact: The Pragmatics of Multifunctional Items in Kwéyòl Donmnik"

A photo of Joy Peltier
Available via Zoom:

Join us for a discussion with Joy Peltier, PhD Candidate in linguistics at the University of Michigan. She will discuss her research on the pragmatics of multifunctional items in Kwéyòl Donmnik (KD), an understudied French- and English-influenced Lesser Antillean Creole. To access this event, please using the following Zoom link with your UGA credentials:


As a Creole language emerges and evolves, its creators alter and shift the functions of the words and structures contributed by its various source languages, yielding an abundance of multifunctional items whose roles in discourse are challenging for researchers to determine. Pragmatic research tends to focus on better-documented languages of prestige, leaving much room for fruitful work on the discourse-level contributions of multifunctional items in Creoles and other contact varieties.


In this lecture, I present the results of my examination of the KD noun phrase, which focuses on speakers’ variable usage of bare nouns and of an inventory of post-nominal deictic markers whose meanings have proven difficult for creolists to clarify and tease apart: -la ‘the/this/that’, -sala ‘this/that’, and -lala ‘this here / that there’. Do KD speakers tend to employ a bare versus a non-bare noun form based on whether the referent is specific or exemplifies a certain information status? Do KD speakers’ co-speech pointing gestures confirm that the post-nominal marker -la and its reduplicated form -lala have a deictic force akin to demonstrative -sala? I will also provide an overview of my ongoing dissertation project, which takes a deeper, comparative look at the usage of locative deictic items (e.g., la ‘the/this/that’) and pragmatic markers (e.g., èben ‘well’) in KD and in its superstrate source languages.


These projects combine fieldwork with experimental and corpus-based approaches and explore the intersections between pragmatics and creolistics. Research of this kind both expands our knowledge of multifunctional items cross-linguistically and deepens our understanding of language contact by examining it at the pragmatic level.


For more about Joy Peltier's research, teaching, and service work, please visit her personal website ( or her University of Michigan Linguistics profile (

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