Unit 6: Pidgins and Creoles – the birth and creation of new languages!
Pidgins & Creoles = languages which are created in multi-lingual environments by the need of
speakers of mutually unintelligible languages to communicate with each other !
Most commonly speakers of 3 or more languages !•
Usually one linguistic group will be dominant and a simple language that is a mixture of all of •
the languages spoken in a social environment will be created -- known as a pidgin
Over a period of time, these languages are increase in complexity and gain native ◦
speakers, transforming the original pidgin form into a creole
Pidgin has no native speakers and is a contact language created when speakers of 2 •
languages need to communicate with each other!
(1) Slaves (from Africa) / their owners (English-speakers) in the American south and ‣
the Caribbean in the 19th century !
(2) Trade languages along coastal areas mostly in the tropics (esp. West Africa/SE ‣
(3) Between North American Indian tribes, pidgin "Chinook Jargon" was formed!‣
(4) Pineapple plantations in Hawaii used "Hawaiian Pidgin English" among immigrant ‣
(5) Developed during wars!‣
Usually thought of as a simpliﬁed version of the dominant linguistic group amongst the ◦
languages needing to be mixed for communication purposes!
Horizontal Interaction (or Horizontal Relations) - contact between two groups with a lack of •
power, might also result in a pidgin involving the dominant language as well b/c these
subordinate groups usually also have contact with the dominant group !
i.e. two slave groups interacting with each other !◦
Vertical Interaction (or Vertical Relations) - contact between one subordinate group with a •
higher-power, more dominant group!
Pidgins generally begin to communicate referential information (factual info + instructions), •
NOT for social convos --> once they begin to develop more grammar, etc. they are used for
Attitudes towards Pidgins/Creoles
People often think of them as "reduced" forms of "regular" languages --> might result in •
speakers of being seen as cognitively deﬁcient in a certain way !
Reasons for negative impressions:!•
(1) Pidgins are not standardized in grammars/dictionaries!◦
(2) No historicity!◦
(3) Lack autonomy - not seen to be distinct, are often seen to be "reduced" forms of other ◦
Pidgin --> Creole Cycle!
Creoles are pidgins that have become the ﬁrst language of a generation of speakers!•
Pidgins are always spoken by people as a second/third/fourth language!•
Pidginisation: creation of a pidgin, involves the simpliﬁcation of some language !•
Reduction in morphology and syntax, reduction in number of functional domains!◦
Creolisation: creation of a creole, involves the expansion of the morphology and syntax of a •
pidgin, and an increase in the number of domains the language is used!