What Are the Differences Between a Pidgin, a Creole, and a “Regular Language”? Is There a Clear Distinction?

Topics: Lingua franca, Pidgin, English language Pages: 3 (1073 words) Published: May 23, 2012
What are the differences between a pidgin, a creole, and a “regular language”? Is there a clear distinction?

Pidgin and creole languages are mostly spoken in the Third World countries where their role is mainly connected with political and social questions. There are supposedly more than 100 pidgin and creole language used in everyday speech (Romaine, 2000). The word pidgin comes from the pronunciation of the word business in Pidgin. It is not anyone's first language, but a contact language that has no native speakers (Wardhaugh, 2002). It arose in order to satisfy the needs of communication between people who spoke different languages. This occurred as a result of European expansion into Africa and Asia during the colonial period, when the speakers of a “dominant” European language came in contact with indigenous African and Asian languages (Jenkins, 2003). The Pidgin form of a “regular language” is greatly simplified and reduced in phonology, morphology, grammar and vocabulary. For example, English-based pidgins may have as few as five vowels, may lose all English inflections and may have vocabularies as small as a thousand words. (Millward, Hayes, 2011). Pidgin grammars tend to be shallow, without any syntactic devices for subordination or embedding. Distinctive marking of structures such as relative clauses comes later in the stabilization or expansion phase of the pidgin life cycle, or arises in the process of creolization (Romaine, 2000). In the Pacific area, the vast majority of the pidgins derive their vocabulary from English and therefore are referred to as English-based. In the Southwest Pacific, the most widespread pidgin languages are spoken in Melanesia, that includes the lingua franca in Papua New Guinea – Tok Pisin. Tok Pisin is greatly used in everyday life, on radio and television, in government and the Parliament, and plays a big role in religion. Unlike the other pidgins, Tok Pisin has also accpeted a written form. There is a Bible in Tok...
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