James Chandler wrote, Fri, 2 Nov 2007 12:13:50 -0700

> But one must separate the case of a creole continuum
> from a normal range of sociolects.  Otherwise you risk
> disparaging normal basilects unjustly as being
> necessarily "simpler" than the acrolect - when this is
> not always the case.

I’d agree that “simpler” isn’t really the word: basilects can indeed be more complex, as I 
previously suggested, but they don’t have the scope of acrolects in terms of range of speech 
sounds and grammar. If you think I’m wrong - I might be, of course - please supply a 
convincing counter-example.

Also, please demonstrate why there is an inherent difference between the acrolect ~ 
mesolect - basilect succession identified by Bickerton and the hierarchy of sociolects within 
any major language. Let’s take Arabic as an example: I don’t see why Classical Arabic - the 
Arabic of the Qu’ran and the famous poets and mystics - shouldn’t be identified as the 
acrolect and the progressively mutually-incomprehensible Arabic vernaculars within distinct 
Arab nations and regions as mesolects and basilects respectively. At the base level there is 
always the telluric influence of place, and often of other languages too, whether creole or 

>> but any hierarchy of sociolects also runs into
>> telluric influence at the lower end

> Sorry, what is "telluric"?  (I'm feeling quite
> ignorant today)

Anything “telluric” pertains to the Earth (Latin, tellus = earth). I was referring to the 
phenomemon whereby accent changes according to geographical location. Obviously, this is 
more noticeable in traditional working-class communities where which people have tended to 
move around less. There’s also the consideration that the middle-class has tended to have a 
national rather than a local identification or allegiance.

(I think this is another reason for the remarkable accent homogeneity in the US, compared 
with the UK and many other countries: there is a large middle class and a cult of nationalism 
in schools with the Stars & Stripes etc.. At a multi-national level, RP acrolect speakers are 
able to synthesise the accents of the entire English-speaking world to a reasonable extent in 
their speech. I’ve noticed RP described as educated Southern English but it’s really more than 

The telluric influence, varying from place to place, seems to bring out some speech sounds 
more especially in one place and others in another. The result is partial richness of speech, 
but at the expense of uniformity, since the parts vary. The basilects, then, have only a 
limited number of phonemes in common. For the same reason, a limited range of phonemes  
should constitute the sound system of a Level One initial IAL. 

>> and secondly that living viable languages don’t
>> really go backwards - changing into a more primitive
>> version of themselves - as a true “pidgin English”
>> would be.

> Surely this has been empirically falsified, namely by
> every instance of pidginization of a natlang.

Please give examples of natlangs with a permanent bona fide “pidginized” style. I’m always 
ready to stand corrected.

with thanks for your reply,

Antony Alexander