АНГ – Левченко Я.С.

– ТМК – Research

The Chair of English Philology

Research on topic:

Pidgins and Creoles as standard Languages?
Conducted by: Yaroslav Levchenko, the student of MA course, specialization “English language and literature”, the faculty of foreign languages

scientific advisor: Migovich I.V.


АНГ – Левченко Я.С. – ТМК – Research Luhansk – 2009


АНГ – Левченко Я.С. – ТМК – Research PLAN Introduction.........................................................................................................3 – 5 Creoles and Pidgins comparison.......................................................................6 – 10 Suggested definitions of Pidgins and Creoles.................................................11 – 14 Conclusions.....................................................................................................15 – 17 References.......................................................................................................18 – 19


АНГ – Левченко Я.С. – ТМК – Research INTRODUCTION

Most languages are derived from their ancestors through an unbroken chain of normal language transmission: each generation of speakers inherits their language from previous generations intact, w/only a few minor changes.

In this process, major changes can take place and new languages

emerge, but only over centuries and even millennia, only gradually.

Exceptions to this process-- rapid growth or loss of languages-- are

nearly all due to contact between languages. Contact can happen between very similar or very distinct languages, in pairs or small numbers or large numbers, gradually or very rapidly. With Pidgins and Creoles, we are only interested in a small part of the spectrum of language contact:

contact between 3 or more linguistically diverse language types, in a situation providing great motivation for speakers to

communicate (and often of dramatic social inequality),

resulting in very rapid language change and evolution.

Thus neither Ps nor Cs come about by normal language change & transmission, in the technical sense used above, yet

Both come about through normal processes of language contact, i.e.


АНГ – Левченко Я.С. – ТМК – Research

Both are natural, developed thru contact and not deliberately


However, Creoles are complete languages, Pidgins are not. This is because Pidgins are new, while Creoles have had time to


There's a continuum between Creoles and older languages -- i.e. a Creole gradually develops grammatical machinery and the sorts of redundancies and historical residue that characterize older languages. So we can't necessarily look at any language today minus its social history and know whether or not it's a Creole (though Pidgins are more obvious, given their general lack of complete grammatical machinery). For the same sorts of reasons, there's a continuum between Pidgins and Creoles too: a Pidgin gradually expands its social contexts, and extends its grammatical forms and repertoire to match them, spurred on by the nativizatin process (by becoming the native language of a group of children, and eventually the language of ethnic identification for a speech community). In other words,

There's no reliable purely-structural definition of Cs, and similarly No hard-and-fast structural distinction between Ps and Cs.


АНГ – Левченко Я.С. – ТМК – Research

Social and historical information is necessary to distinguish them from

each other, and from older languages which developed through normal language transmission. Nevertheless, there are some widely-found tendencies and generalizations linguists use in attempting to characterize Pidgins and Creoles. There is great argument about the claims I've just made above, but they are increasingly popular. There's also a consensus in the field that old-fashioned treatments (e.g. those still found in many linguistics textbooks today!) of the differences between Pidgins, Creoles and older languages have often been too simple and evenfactually incorrect. This is partly because of the great progress in careful description of Pidgin and Creole grammars in the last 20 or 25 years, and also because of advances in our understanding of historical processes made through careful case studies of individual languages.


АНГ – Левченко Я.С. – ТМК – Research


Today, creolists think it's especially important to study Pidgins & Creoles (and transitional varieties like AAVE) for many reasons, including:

to deepen our knowledge of language change and contact to help us understand how new languages expand, age and decay

Also, there's some unsolved mystery about whether such processes of language formation and growth are the same for all cases -- i.e.,

whether all Pidgins share structural features because of their recent

formation, and

whether all Creoles share structural features because of the pathways

of language change open to them. (The topic of grammaticalization is an important one here.)

Let’s compare the case of typical Pidgins and Creoles with African American Vernacular English (AAVE) -- a dialect of North American English which may have had a Creole past. At any rate, it's certain that many of the same social and linguistic conditions which led to Creole formation throughout the West Indies were in place; and yet today AAVE is certainly not a Creole. 7

АНГ – Левченко Я.С. – ТМК – Research

Comparison: Pidgins, Creoles & African American Vernacular English

Pidgin Contact language that arose naturally Has native speakers Not usually Linguistic form and grammar are... Reduced* Yes

Creole Yes

AAVE (? contact?)



Expanded *


Restricted in contexts of use Stable and independent norms Fully adequate natural language

Yes No No

No Yes Yes

Yes but... Yes Yes

Short texts and example data This example shows how the same lexical elements may be configured differently in a Creole from its superstrate. GFC is actually more regular and systematic than Standard French, in having both modifiers on the same side of the head noun. 8

АНГ – Левченко Я.С. – ТМК – Research French la table rouge Def table Adj versus "the red table" Guadeloupéen French Creole tab wouj la table Adj Def

Pidgin Fijian: Tamana tinana keitou sa mate tiko Father mother 1pl Pred die Dur "Our parents have died" This example shows how reduced pidgin grammar may be when compared to its input. Fijian, a Polynesian language with c. 200,000 speakers, has 35 formsfor pronouns corresponding to English's 3 in the first plural: we/us/our. This is because Fijian distinguishes not just singular from plural, but singular fromdual (=2) from paucal (=a few) from plural; while there are also different forms for items that are edible vs. drinkable vs. other, etc. However, Pidgin Fijian(spoken in Fiji by people of Polynesian, Indian and Chinese descent) has only one pronominal form for this person/number: keitou. This feature is an example of the "greater simplicity" that is often attributed to Pidgins and Creoles. Linguists mean the following when we say simplicity:


АНГ – Левченко Я.С. – ТМК – Research

an increase in regularity (fewer exceptions, fewer forms), and/or a decrease in marking distinctions in the form of the language (lack of


inflectional morphemes, among other things) Note that these trends aid the speaker more than the listener, so it's not cognitively simpler. (Not mentally, that is -- of course Pidgin speakers know the differences between few/many, edible/inedible etc!) More work has to be done in inference, through pragmatics, because the syntax and morphology does less.

Solomon Islands Pidjin: verses from Mark 5:2-4 This example is from a Pacific Pidgin with English as its superstrate. (All of these Pidgins and Creoles date from the 19th century, so they are relatively new, but their early days are relatively well-documented; see Muhlhausler 1997 below for a good treatment of them.) Missionary influence played a large role in many of these languages, and often continues to in the from of development of materials for language description, instruction and standardization. This New Testament text and translation thus make an appropriate example.


Steretwe taem Jisas i go soa,


When he had stepped out of the boat

wanfela man wea i stap long berigiraon i kamaot fo mitim hem. Desfala man ia devol nogud i stap long 10

immediately a man out of the tombs met him

This man was possessed by an unclean spir

АНГ – Левченко Я.С. – ТМК – Research hem. 3. Ples bulong hem nao long berigiraon. 3. He lived in the cemetery;

Bikos hem i karangge tumas,

and no-one could restrain him any more, even with chains,

no man i save taemapim. 4. Plande taem olketa i hankapem han

because he was too strong. 4.

For he had often been restrained wit

an lek bulong hem, bat hem i smasing olketa nomoa.

shackles and chains on his arms and legs, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces,

No man i storong fitim fo holem.

and no one had the strength to subdue him.


АНГ – Левченко Я.С. – ТМК – Research

SUGGESTED DEFINITIONS FOR PIDGINS AND CREOLES A lingua franca is a language used by people whose mother tongues are different in order to communicate. Any language could conceivably serve as a lingua franca between two groups, no matter what sort of language it was. This is also true for some other terms (cited by Wm. Samarin, Wardhaugh Chap. 3): "Contact Language, International Language, Auxiliary Language, Trade Language". A pidgin could serve as alingua franca, too; so could a creole. English often does. Lingua franca is thus a purely functionally-defined term, i.e. linguistic structure of the language involved plays no role.

A Pidgin

is a contact language or lingua franca that arose naturally (not like

e.g. Esperanto)

does not have native speakers is reduced in linguistic form and grammar is restricted in contexts of use is typically unstable and highly mixed 12




АНГ – Левченко Я.С. – ТМК – Research

may sometimes be a stable variety with norms of acceptability, but is NOT a fully adequate natural language.


Also, Pidgins:

derive from the process of pidginization typically evolve from trade or plantation situations... ... where many languages occur but no one predominates; are the products of incomplete Second Language Acquisition, and





... have small core vocabularies, and borrow extensively, ... have very surfacy grammar, much variation but little system, ... and sociolinguistically have no (or incoherent) norms of




have limited domains for expressive and communicative functions; typically either die out or evolve into creoles... ... through the process of creolization/nativization.



A Creole, on the other hand:

does have native speakers has developed, thru expansion in linguistic form and grammar, 13


АНГ – Левченко Я.С. – ТМК – Research

and thru extension in use (communicative & expressive functions), into a full-fledged, complete and adequate natural language which is typically stable and autonomous in its norms



Also, Creoles:

often evolve from pidgins, thru the creolization/nativization process; exist most often in post-colonial areas, where... ...they tend to be the vernacular of spontaneous daily use; are typically related to one widely-spoken language (often seen as a




'corruption' of it);

are native languages acquired as mother tongues; thus... ...are products of First Language Acquisition, based on inadequate


input (Bickerton);

may either stabilize, decreolize thru contact, or die out may or may not be highly mixed, depending on their age & current


language contacts;

have established mechanisms for vocabulary extension

(borrowing/integration rules);

have less elaborate/grammaticalized structures in grammar than older

languages do (whether standardized or not), but definitely more than pidgins; 14

АНГ – Левченко Я.С. – ТМК – Research

have much variation but coherent sociolinguistic norms (of


have wider domains & are used more for expressive/communicative


... though they resemble non-standard dialects in terms of prestige; may remain stable over long periods or merge toward standard


languages (decreolize). These definitions use "stable” and “autonomous" as relative terms. Creoles are independent languages with their own communities & social life -- but not resistant to change, nor impervious to outside influences!


АНГ – Левченко Я.С. – ТМК – Research


Theories of Pidginization and Creolization divide up into those that are basically historical, versus those that are basically universalist. The basic facts they are both trying to explain are:

why Creoles around the world, regardless of superstrate, are similar in

structure (are they?)

why Pidgins around the world, regardless of superstrate, are similar in

structure (are they?)

how and why Creoles and Pidgins are related: how they're similar, and how they're distinct how Creoles develop out of Pidgins (when and if they do)

The basic idea is, most pidgins and creoles are the product of European colonialism going around the world and colliding with indigenous languages, often either enslaving their speakers or shipping them off to remote non-native areas to work as "indentured servants". So it originally seemed logical to try to explain as much as possible by common descent from the politically-dominant European "superstrate" languages and the "substrate" languages of the people they dominated - African languages in the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean, Austronesian and other 16

АНГ – Левченко Я.С. – ТМК – Research languages in the Pacific, and so on - taking into account different social circumstances that obtain over such a period of extended contact, which typically result in development of pidgins early on, and creoles later on. Input languages into Pidgins and Creoles are often referred to by the terms:

Superstrate: a language spoken by people who held a

socially dominant position in the contact that produced them.

Substrate: a language spoken by people who held a

socially subordinate position in the contact that produced them.

Adstrate: another language involved that's neither in a dominant nor

a subordinate situation (often one that came into contact after the initial situation applied). The basic idea is that pidgins are the product of the same general kinds of contact processes that would happen anywhere, no matter who was involved. So it seems logical to try and figure out what those processes are, how they applied to particular kinds of languages we know about, and how they would apply to others if the chance arose; and to compare this process to second language learning (SLA). Creoles, on the other hand, are supposed to be the product of nativization of mixed, second languages (pidgins), and nativization is basically child firstlanguage learning (FLA) - which is thought to be the same everywhere, due to our innate, genetically-programmed language learning mechanisms, no matter what kinds of input children get. If creoles all have similar input, and undergo similar 17

АНГ – Левченко Я.С. – ТМК – Research processes, it's no surprise they should turn out to be similar even when they're historically unrelated. Over the last 10 – 15 years, there have been many modifications of these sorts of positions. It's fair to say today that most creolists believe there are both historical and universalist elements involved in the explanation of any particular Pidgin or Creole's structure.


АНГ – Левченко Я.С. – ТМК – Research


J Arends, P Muysken & N Smith, eds. Pidgins & Creoles, Chs. 1-2. (The same book, Chs. 3 & 8-11, goes further in-depth.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishers.


JA Holm 1988 Pidgins and creoles. Vol. I: Theory and structure. Vol. II: Reference survey. Cambridge Univ. Press. (A handbook on Ps & Cs around the world.)


Thomason, Sarah G. 2001. Language contact: an introduction. Edinburgh: Univ. of Edinburgh Press. (A good book setting creoles and pidgins in the general cnotext of language contact.)


S Romaine 1994, Language in Society, Ch. 3 (8998). Oxford Univ. Press. (Good chapter in a standard sociolinguistics textbook.)


P Muhlhausler 1997 (2nd ed.) Pidgin and creole linguistics. London: Battlebridge Press, Westminster Creolistics Series 2. (A good introductory textbook on Ps & Cs.)


D Hymes ed. 1971 Pidginization and Creolization of Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


JE Reinecke, SM Tsuzaki, D DeCamp, I Hancock & RE Wood 1975 A bibliography of Pidgin and Creole languages. (Oceanic Linguistics Special Publication No. 14.)Honolulu: The University Press of Hawai'i. 19

АНГ – Левченко Я.С. – ТМК – Research

D Bickerton 1984 "The language bioprogram hypothesis" Behavioral & Brain Sciences 7(2):173-221.


RB LePage & A Tabouret-Keller 1985 Acts of Identity: Creole-based approaches to language & ethnicity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

10. P

Muysken and N Smith eds. 1986 Substrata versus universals in creole

genesis. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishers.
11. D

Bickerton 1988 "Creole Languages and the Bioprogram" In Newmeyer,

ed., Language: Psychological & Biological Aspects. (Linguistics: the Cambridge Survey, Vol. 3), 267284. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
12. SG

Thomason & T Kaufman 1988. Language Contact, Creolization, &

Genetic Linguistics. Berkeley: University of California Press.
13. S

Mufwene ed. 1993 Africanisms in Afro-American language

varieties. Athens GA: University of Georgia Press.
14. J

McWhorter 1998 "Identifying the creole prototype: Vindicating a

typological class." Language 74(4):788-81.
15. PL

Patrick 1999 Urban Jamaican Creole: Variation in the

Mesolect. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins


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