JOPOL 4(2021)

The Constructed Other as a Historical Source: Reclaiming Linguistic African Roots in the Diaspora
Andrea Hollington

Creole Linguistics and African Linguistics are both disciplines that are deeply rooted in colonial discourses and missionary activities. Early European scholars who investigated African languages and Creole languages have been influenced by racist, colonial and religious ideologies. While this had an impact on the knowledge these scholars produced, a critical reflection of the historic epistemologies and their continuations has only started. Many scholars in both fields use the old data produced by missionaries without questioning the underlying implications of knowledge production. This contribution aims at critically investigating the works of two missionary-linguists, namely Westermann and Christaller, and sheds light on the ways in which they are used and perceived in Creole linguistics in the context of “substrate influences” and reconstructing African roots. A critical discussion of the contexts of knowledge production is necessary to reflect on the practices of these scholars. Finally, the paper looks at the role of Othering practices and the ways in which they can be appropriated by “another Other”, illustrating that epistemologies across time and disciplines, involving different scholars and protagonists can develop their own complexities that need to be taken into consideration.

Keywords: African Linguistics, Creole Linguistics, Colonial Linguistics, Jamaican, knowledge production, epistemologies, Othering, missionaries