Bickerton: Language bioprogram hypothesisappreciated by more extended citation of some quitetypical utterances:7.bilding - hai pleis - wal pat - taim - nautaim - aenden
nau tempicha eri taim sho yu (Japanese,1913)"There was an electric sign high up on the wall ofthe building which showed you what time andtemperature it was."8. gud, dis wan. kaukau enikain dis wan. pilipin ailaenno gud. no mo mani (Ilocano, 1913)."It's better here then in the Philippines - here youcan get all kinds of food - but over there there isn'tany money [to buy food
Pidgin speakers lacked the resources that language nor-mally employs in the expression of complex propositions;as examples (l)-(8) suggest, they had no consistent meansof marking tense, aspect, or modality; no consistentsystem of anaphora (compare the zero subject anaphora of with the stereotypic use of
as an all-purposepronoun for
and so on in  and ); no struc-ture more complex than the single clause (hence no em-bedding of one sentence within another, whether theembedded sentence be relative clause or sententialcomplement); and no systematic means for distinguishingcase relations. In consequence, parsing of pidgin hasto be based almost exclusively on semantics and pragma-tics.Language at this level of degeneracy must have con-stituted a major part of the input to children learninglanguage around 1900-1920. Bruner and Feldman (1982)are right in pointing out that input from a variety of fullydeveloped human languages was also potentially avail-able.However, as is shown later in this article, there is noevidence that children, in acquiring a pidgin natively, areable to use the latter kind of input, and much evidencethat they cannot, or perhaps do not need to.Input of the type of (l)-(8) presents children with twodistinct problems. The first arises from the variability ofthe data. One might suppose that variable word orderwould pose no greater problem than is presented by so-called nonconfigurational (free word order) languages(Hale 1978). However, such languages invariably havemechanisms (e.g., pre- or postpositions, case inflections,etc.) for unambiguous marking of case roles; Hawaiianpidgin had none of these.The second and more severe problem arises from thelack of models for complex structures. The examples thatfollow represent types of sentences produced by Hawai-ian creole speakers who grew up in the period 1900-1920(in each case the speaker's birth date is given in paren-theses). No examples of these sentence types have beenfound among the immigrant speakers who arrived duringthat period.9. dei gon get naif pok you (1896)"They will stab you with a knife."
dei wawk fit go skul (1902)"They went to school on foot."Here, nouns in the Instrumental and Manner cases areintroduced by verbs
respectively) ratherthan by prepositions, as in English. The importance ofthis type of structure, known as verb serialization, willbecome apparent as we proceed further.
dei kam in da mawning taim go skul (1902)"They came to school in the morning."
dafrsjaepani keim ran awei framjaepan kam (1896)"The first Japanese who arrived ran away fromJapan to here."Note the use of verbs of motion:
to mark Locative Casein (11),
("come") to serve as a directional adverbial("to here") in(12).These examples illustrate further typesof verb serialization.
dei wen go ap dea in da mawning go plaen (1896)"They went up there in the morning to plant[things]."
pipl no laik tekam fo go wok (1902)"People don't want to have him go to work [for
Examples (13) and (14) show, first, a systematic means forembedding sentential complements (by means of verbphrases following
and, second, a means ofdistinguishing between accomplished and unaccom-plished actions. The "planting" of (13), an action thatactually took place, as the context of the sentence makesclear, is marked by
whereas the "going to work" of(14), an action that did not take place, is marked by
Neither process has any antecedent in the pidgin, and thesecond has no antecedent in English either.
samtaim dei stei kam araun, polis (1900)"Sometimes the police used to come around."
wan taim wen wi go horn inna nait dis ting stei flaiap (1902)"Once when we went home at night this thing wasflying about."Without
(15) would be self-contradictory - "Some-times the police came around once" - while (16) comesfrom a description of ball lightning, an inherently dura-tive phenomenon. Use of
as a marker of nonpunctual(durative or iterative) aspect is another Creole innovation;no means of marking aspect of any kind exists in thepidgin.With one exception, examples (9)-(16) involve the useof full verbs (or forms derived from full verbs) to dischargefunctions that in English are discharged by prepositions,adverbs, complementizers, or auxiliaries. The exception
in  is closely related to a form that is shown belowto be fully verbal in Saramaccan, a Creole closer to thebioprogram than Hawaiian Creole. This use of verbsdiffers strikingly from the common pidgin strategy ofusing strings of mainly nominal constituents with few orno verbs (cf.  and ).
sam filipino wok ohia dei wen kapl yiaz in filipinailaen (1896)"Some Filipinos who worked over here went backto the Philippines for a couple of years."
wan dei haed pleni av dis mauntin fish kam daun(1897)"One day there were a lot of these fish from themountains that came down [the
Here we find fully developed relative clauses - a featureabsent from the pidgin of 1900-1920 - but clauses thatdiffer from their English equivalents in that (a) they lackrelative pronouns, which are nondeletable in the Englishequivalents, and (b) where the head noun of the clause isindefinite in reference ("Some Filipinos"), a pronoun
THE BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES (1984) 7:2