Analysis Of Pidgin And Creole Languages English Language Essay

1332 words - 6 pages

An Examination of Pidgins, Creoles, and their Origins
The global wave of European colonisation originated in the preliminary half of
the fifteenth century and persisted until the early nineteenth century, and within
the same period, the slave trade simultaneously began to expand. A direct result
of such events was that the languages of the major colonial powers, most
significantly English, French and Portuguese, began to encounter the native
languages of colonised populations. (Crystal, 2003: 30) Pidgin and creole
languages are the linguistic consequences of such contact. This essay will
highlight the distinction between pidgins and creoles through an inspection of
their defining characteristics, and examine how each language type arises, with
reference to various examples.
A pidgin is a language that enters existence from contact between at least two
languages with complementary distribution; primarily they arise from a need for
communication for trade and work, among speakers who do not share a common
language. Pidgins are therefore characterised as functional languages, with no
native speakers, and while they are hugely influenced by their parent languages,
they are not necessarily mutually intelligible with them. (Singh, 2000: 38) The
dominant language in the creation of a pidgin is know as a superstrate, while the
less dominant is known as the substrate. The role that each original parent
language is assigned is heavily influenced by socio-political power. (Singh,
2000: 41) For example, in colonial pidgins, the European language is always the
superstrate, as the European colonisers had more power and were in control of
the language contact. It is from the superstrate, of ‘lexifier,’ that pidgins acquire
the bulk of their vocabulary, while the syntactic structure often is supplied by the
Once a pidgin language enters into existence, it follows a developmental
continuum that is universal to all languages of this variety. The first and most
basic stage is the jargon phase, characterised by high grammatical and lexical
instability. An example of this phrase can be observed through the basic pidgin
language Russenorsk, which Russian sailors and Norwegian fishermen used to
communicate for trade in the eighteenth century. (Velupillai, 2015: 52) Next,
through the process of tertiary hybridisation, a pidgin language progresses from
the jargon phase to a stable pidgin. Tertiary hybridisation is the process by which
the jargon begins to be used exclusively between groups of speakers who are not
speakers of the superstrate. The jargon develops independent of the superstrate's
influence. (Velupillai, 2015: 54) In the stable phase, there is a reduction of
linguistic variability, and linguistic norms of usage in grammar, pronunciation,
and vocabulary are established, which are distinct from the input parent
languages. The final stage in the development is the expansion phase, in which
the variety of communicative functions that the pidgin is...

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