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World Englishes, Vol 16, No. 2, pp. 185±204, 1997. 0883±2919

Pidgin and English in Melanesia: is there a continuum?


ABSTRACT: It is generally accepted that there is a post-pidgin or post-creole continuum in Melanesia,
similar to those found in West Africa and the Caribbean. But is there really? This question is answered by
examining in detail the linguistic features of Tok Pisin (the Papua New Guinea variety of Melanesian
Pidgin) which reportedly result from decreolization (or depidginization) and the linguistic features of
Papua New Guinea English, looking for the influence of Tok Pisin. Code-switching and transference
between Tok Pisin and English and the reported existence of intermediate forms are also discussed. It is
concluded that an English-to-pidgin continuum does not exist in Papua New Guinea or in the other
Melanesian countries. The distinctiveness and status of Melanesian Pidgin are described as possible
reasons for the lack of such a continuum. The situation in Melanesia does not support the life-cycle view of
pidgin/creole development, and lends weight to the view that post-creole continua result from early
variation and not later decreolization.


Melanesia is one of the areas of the world where a pidgin-to-English or post-pidgin
continuum is supposed to exist. This article examines the sociolinguistic situation in
Melanesia to see whether this is really true. It begins with a brief review of both the
English-lexifier pidgins and the varieties of English reported spoken in four Melanesian
countries. Then it goes on to look at the notion of the `post-pidgin continuum,' and to
consider whether or not it really applies to conditions in these countries. Following is a
discussion of some important socio-cultural and political factors which may distinguish
Melanesia from other areas. The article concludes with a brief consideration of the
theoretical implications of these findings.1

In the independent Melanesian countries (Fiji,2 Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands
and Vanuatu), English is an official language, and the language of education (along with
French in Vanuatu). However, it is the mother tongue of only a small minority, probably
less than 1 percent of the population of these countries. (With regard to the non-
independent countries, France still controls New Caledonia and Indonesia has more
recently subjugated large Melanesian populations in West Papua and East Timor; see
Table I.)
Overviews of the history and current role of English are given for the Pacific in general
by Watson-Gegeo (1989) and Romaine (1991), for Fiji by Siegel (1989), for Papua New
Guinea by Romaine (1989a), for Solomon Islands by Watson-Gegeo (1987), and for
Vanuatu by Crowley (1989). A brief summary of this information is given below:

*Department of Linguistics, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia. e-mail: jsiegel@

A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. 1997, 108 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1JF, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA.

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186 Jeff Siegel

Table 1. Melanesian countries

Date of Official/educational
Country Colonial power(s) independence language(s) Pidgin language(s)

Fiji Britain 1970 English Pidgin Fijian
Pidgin Hindustani
Papua New Guinea Britain, Germany, 1975 English Tok Pisin
Australia Hiri Motu
Solomon Islands Britain 1978 English Pijin
Vanuatu Britain & France 1980 English, French Bislama
New Caledonia France French
West Papua The Netherlands, Bahasa Indonesia
East Timor Portugal, Indonesia Bahasa Indonesia

The indigenous inhabitants of Fiji make up about half of the population of approxi-
mately 700,000, and speak varieties of Fijian as their mother tongue. About 45 percent of
the population are descendants of imported Indian indentured labourers and speak Fiji
Hindi. English, however, is the de facto national language of Fiji, the official language of
government, the main language of business, and the language of instruction in schools
after third grade. In the broadcasting media, it has equal time with the standard forms of
the vernaculars: Fijian and Hindi. Weekly newspapers also appear in these languages, but
the English dailies are by far more popular.
A distinct variety of English has emerged in Fiji, spoken by all ethnic groups. It is often
classified as one of the `New Englishes' or indigenized varieties of English (Moag 1982;
Platt et al. 1984). The main features of Fiji English have been described most recently by
Siegel (1989, 1991), but a more detailed, large scale study is currently being carried out by
Jan Tent, a lecturer at the University of the South Pacific.
No variety of pidgin English has developed in Fiji; rather, Pidgin Fijian and Pidgin
Hindustani have been used for interethnic communication (Siegel, 1986, 1987). The pidgin
English reported in Fiji by Wurm (1971) was actually a variety imported by immigrant
plantation laborers who had previously worked in Queensland or Samoa. This variety is
now extinct in Fiji. The `Fiji Pidgin English' referred to by Geraghty (1977, 1984) is
actually a variety of Fiji English, unrelated to any pidgin once spoken in Fiji (Siegel 1987:
237). Since there can be no pidgin-to-English continuum without a pidgin, I will not be
saying anything more about Fiji in this article.

Papua New Guinea
In Papua New Guinea (PNG) where over 800 vernacular languages are spoken by a
population of approximately 3.8 million, English holds a similarly important official
position as the language of government (at least in written communication) and the
medium of instruction from first grade in all government schools. However, Tok Pisin, the
PNG dialect of Melanesian Pidgin (MP), is more widely used as a lingua franca in both
official and unofficial contexts and is considered by some to be a better candidate than
A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. 1997

there is a great deal of variation in the speech community and the point at which a form of speech is located along the continuum depends on the context as well as the social characteristics of the speaker. 1984). is much more widely used as the lingua franca among speakers of the country's more than 80 vernacular languages. though it is spoken by only 10±15 percent of the population of approximately 300. 2. Vanuatu The position of English is quite different in Vanuatu. Pijin is rarely found in any official contexts.-M. the Solomon Islands dialect of MP. but it has not yet been studied (Watson-Gegeo. and some in French. 1971). and fluent English/French bilingualism is not that common. Linguistically. except for certain news bulletins in Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu. a distinct Vanuatu variety of English does not appear to have emerged (Crowley. English is an official language. and therefore most `creole-like' (the basilect). A distinct indigenized variety of English has also emerged in PNG (Platt et al. The features of PNG English have been described in detail by A. having only a minor role in radio broadcasting and sharing space equally with French and Bislama in the country's weekly newspaper. phonological and grammatical features ranging from those closest to a standard form of the creole's lexifier language (the acrolect) and those furthest from the lexifier language.d:/weng/16-2/25-2. along with Bislama and French. A regional variety of PNG English spoken in the Milne Bay province has been outlined by Yarupawa (1986).3d ± 4/9/97 ± 10:13 ± tm/mp Pidgin and English in Melanesia: is there a continuum? 187 English for the national language. broadcasting on the national level is almost entirely in English. the national language is Bislama. though it is more widely used in national radio broadcasting. 1987: 29). A distinct Solomon Islands English may be emerging. According to Article 3(1) of the Constitu- tion. On the other hand. along with French (but not Bislama). and a principal language of education. 1997 . 1988b). a country of approximately 160. Using Bislama is often a necessity because some of the eÂlite are educated in English.000 people with 105 vernacular languages. the speech of the urban professional eÂlite would be toward the acrolectal end A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. There are two English daily newspapers and a Tok Pisin weekly. Also in contrast to the other Melanesian countries. In contrast to the other Melanesian countries. it is spoken as a distant second language. originally described (but not named) by Schuchardt (see Meijier and Muysken.3 It is also used to a large extent in parliamentary debates (Nekitel.. Even then. 1990) and in government publications. THE POST-PIDGIN CONTINUUM The notion of the `post-pidgin continuum' is derived from that of the `post-creole continuum' (DeCamp. English is not the main language of government in Vanuatu or of the media. it is characterized by a continuum of lexical. Wantok. the Vanuatu dialect of MP. 1988a.5 Thus.000. 1989: 44). Smith (1978. For example. Solomon Islands English is also the official and school language of the Solomon Islands. and the relay of parliamentary debates. 1977: 31). English is very rarely spoken among the educated eÂlite. Pijin. Thus.4 But unlike Tok Pisin.

after a brief period of relatively linguistic independence.' though. Kale (1990: 190) says that `a pidgin-English continuum may be evolving.' and says that a `fully fledged continuum of the Jamaican type' has recently come into existence in PNG. and access to education in the dominant language.. Since the social conditions are apparently similar in Melanesia. The terms `post-pidgin' and `post-pidgin continuum. 1987: 156). 1982: 286. has come under renewed vigorous influence from its original lexifier language. but an unbroken spectrum between the pidgin or creole on the one hand and the prestigious standard language on the other. Aitchison (1981: 212±14) also describes the `decreolization' of Tok Pisin and Romaine (1992: 323) concludes that `decreolization is already advanced in urban areas like Lae.3d ± 4/9/97 ± 10:13 ± tm/mp 188 Jeff Siegel whereas the speech of a poor rural peasant would be toward the basilectal end. some scholars have applied the notions of a post-pidgin/creole continuum and decreoliza- tion to MP. 1991: 497). The social conditions for a post-creole continuum outlined by DeCamp (1971: 351) include a standard form of the lexifier language being the dominant official language. In her earlier textbook on pidgin and creole languages. MuÈhlhaÈusler (1986: 237) gives the following definition: In general terms.6 For example.g. involving restructuring and/or replacement of earlier lexicon and grammar in favour of patterns from the superimposed `target' language. 1971. this phenomenon is supposedly the result of the lexifier language becoming the target and the creole then becoming heavily influenced or restructured by it. the two linguistic systems inter-influence each other with the result that one finds. 1975a). Bick- erton.d:/weng/16-2/25-2. O'Donnell and Todd (1980: 52) clearly include PNG. in the areas where post-creole continua have already developed. 1971) in other colonial and ex-colonial situations. Intermediate or mesolectal varieties are also found in between. Bokamba. Thus. not two distinct systems. Romaine (1988: 304) also mentions the existence of a post-pidgin continuum in PNG as well as West Africa. especially to Tok Pisin. The best-known post-creoles are in the Caribbean region (e. A similar point is made by Sankoff (1976: 308): Though the distinction between Tok Pisin and English is still very clear. the partial break down of formerly rigid social stratification so that some social mobility is possible. and the best-known post-pidgin continua are in West Africa (Todd. When a creole or expanded pidgin exists in a community where its lexical source language is the language of education and politics . A decade later. Bickerton (1975b) speculates that a continuum may develop in PNG similar to those in Guyana and Nigeria. are now used to describe the situation relating specifically to a pidgin language (MuÈhlhaÈusler. Finally. a process called `decreolization.' However. . 1980: 22. along with the West Indies and West Africa. Appel and Muysken. by a post-pidgin or post-creole variety we understand a pidgin or creole which. DeCamp. there are some signs that the urban New Guinea linguistic situation is moving toward what has been characterised as a `post-creole continuum' (DeCamp. MuÈhlhaÈusler (1986: 237±49) gives several linguistic examples from Tok Pisin to illustrate A Blackwell Publishers Ltd.' The terms post-creole continuum and decreolization are sometimes applied to situations where an expanded pidgin comes into renewed close contact with its lexifiers. . 1997 . O'Donnell and Todd (1980: 52) state: A further phase in the development of a pidgin is what has been called a `post-creole continuum.' although the phenomenon thus described is not limited to areas where pidgins have become the mother tongue of a speech community.

there are many lexical items supposedly part of urban Tok Pisin which are comprehensible only to English-TP bilinguals. 1985: 531): rural urban bungim kolektim `collect' meri gel `girl' gat hevim `have' tok nogut swea `swear' However. the items in small capitals in the following extract from a speech of a Member of Parliament (Nekitel. some more commonly rural and others more commonly urban.d:/weng/16-2/25-2. IS THERE REALLY A PIDGIN-TO-ENGLISH CONTINUUM IN MELANESIA? In order to answer this question. Olsem na inap long Minista bilong Yut i senisim policy bilong yu na lukluk long dispela na divert- im mani i go . other formerly urban or anglicized TP items have now become common all over PNG. Some examples are (Siegel. and (5) the reported existence of intermediate forms. I will first examine the following aspects of the situation in PNG: (1) the current linguistic features of Tok Pisin (TP) which reportedly result from decreolization (or depidginization). . 1985b) is based mainly on differences in the distribution of lexical items. On the basis of this examination.3d ± 4/9/97 ± 10:13 ± tm/mp Pidgin and English in Melanesia: is there a continuum? 189 the post-pidgin situation. (3) the linguistic features of PNG English. for example. or more specifically a pidgin-to-English continuum. looking for the influence of Tok Pisin. . 3. in PNG. I will make some conclusions about PNG and then go on to look at the situations in the other Melanesian countries. . . So inap long painim wanpela as o i no inap ± inap long yu putim dispela ol mani bilong yut i go insait long kristen ± kristen yut organization we i gat moa kaikai . But is there really a post-pidgin continuum. although he questions the unilinear view of decreolization (and `depiginization'). 1990: 31): Tenkyu Mista Spika: mi laik askim a supplementary tasol long minnista a-a em i gat tingting long a-am formulate-im wanpela policy dispela ol man ya ol i kolim ol yut ya ol i raskol na gavman i givim ol mani taim since taim ol i stat i kam inap nau na i nogat wanpela bikpela wok i kam na ol i no go bek na ol i no rehabilitate-im ol. even in rural areas: rural urban/rural bosman menesa `manager' gohet divelopmen `development' yangpela yut `youth' ol manmeri pablik `the public' helpim sapotim `support' orait oke `OK' (especially as a discourse marker) Also. A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. 3. 1997 . (2) the current status of English-influenced innovations that were reported almost 40 years ago. and in other Melanesian countries? This question is the topic of the remainder of this article. The influence of English in the TP lexicon is unmistakable. (4) code-switching and transference.1 Current linguistic features of TP Lexicon. the distinction between the urban and rural sociolects made by MuÈhlhaÈusler (1975.

1987: 740). 1989b: 61). indigenous PNG languages are still a potential source of new lexical items. it is more likely such items are not really integrated into any widely spoken variety of Tok Pisin. careful reading of her study shows that for certain items. for example English cow instead of TP bulmakau (158). Romaine (1992: 171) says. or they are the result of transference (Clyne. Aitchison's (1981: 212±214) claim that TP is undergoing decreolization is based almost entirely on the widespread borrowing from English among some urban speakers.' However.) Also. Mr Speaker. are not based on English: expression literal meaning idiomatic meaning kisim win `get wind' `have a rest' karim kaikai `give food' `get the desired result' kapsaitim wara `pour water' `urinate' putim skin `put one's skin' `try to make an impression' sem pipia `ashamed rubbish' `very ashamed' suytim tok `shoot talk' `blame' In addition.3d ± 4/9/97 ± 10:13 ± tm/mp 190 Jeff Siegel [Thank you. as pointed out in Siegel. some rural areas show greater usage of an anglicized form than urban areas. P. the development of many new idioms and metaphorical expressions. Romaine (1992: 172±210) describes in detail phonological variation in TP with regard to certain phonological A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. 1994. (There are also some methodological problems with the study. `There is now a considerable gap between urban and rural Tok Pisin which is due partly to the greater anglicization of the lexicon of town speech. also known as nonce borrowing (Romaine. Smith (1990). Further- more.d:/weng/16-2/25-2. Thus. I want to ask a supplementary (question) to the minister ± whether he's thinking of formulating a policy about these people called youth who are really criminals and the government gives them money since they started (the scheme) up until now and they haven't done anything with it and they haven't gone back and haven't been rehabilitated. such as atos `fellow Siassi Islander' (MuÈhlhaÈusler. For example. Thus. . not English. but gives no details of their distribution. This is the spontaneous and momentary transfer of a single lexical item or phrase from one linguistic system into another. So can a reason be found or not ± can you put this money for youth into a Christian youth organization that has more credit. for example the use of oke rather than orait in various locations in one province (147). 1989: 48). Phonology. while it is true that the lexicon of TP is being anglicized to some extent. It is also important to point out that a great deal of the lexical expansion occurring in both urban and rural TP is based on the internal resources of the language. The increasing use of English is one manifestation of decreolization. Either they are part of a special political register (Scorza and Franklin. MuÈhlhaÈusler (1986: 239±40) gives the introduction of consonant clusters ± as in bihaindim instead of bihainim `to follow' ± as an example of phonological restructuring of TP due to English. the degree of anglicization in some cases seems to be based on geographical rather than social factors. as described by G.] However. this phenomenon cannot be correlated specifically with any particular social group. 1991: 644). can you the Minister of Youth change your policy and look into this and divert the money . and the use of English items by bilinguals may indicate spontaneous borrowing (transference) rather than integrated borrowing. . English is not the only source of lexical expansion in the language. 1997 .

P. She claims that `the most important factor seems to be the influence of English' (208). since plural marking is optional in TP grammar. rather than a true suffixed plural. educated Tok Pisin speakers may be spontaneously borrowing English words with their plural suffix.' while another consistently uses boys for `boys' but meri or ol meri for `girls' (242). One of the most commonly referred to `post-pidgin' features of TP is the reported existence of two systems of plural marking. G. Furthermore. and rather than having a dual system of plural marking. 41 percent of -s marked nouns are `double marked' with ol. the fact that a word occurs in TP with the -s plural marker but without the ol plural marker does not necessarily mean it is being grammatically marked for plural just because that is the function of the -s in English. post office clerk. Smith (1994: 16) describes large-scale lexical borrowing from English in the Tok Pisin spoken in Manus and concludes that `the adopted lexical items are generally fully integrated' into Tok Pisin phonology. For example. nurses. `Many women work as typists. 1997 . He illustrates. it may be misleading to say that using the -s plural is an alternative `system' of plural marking in Tok Pisin. even though she has shown many other factors may be involved. despite the presence of the -s. once again the most striking phonological change in TP is internally motivated and has nothing to do with English. She also concludes (211) that `these changes can be regarded as part of the more general process of decreolization. As pointed out by Crowley (1992: 217±18).' This may be true of many other cases as well. such as [p] versus [f]. Furthermore. Romaine. and that there is no evidence of any change in Tok Pisin phonological distinctions. 1986.' However. Another uses the -s plural for only certain items: planti meri wok olsem taipis. P. post office nurses. On the other hand. radio announcer na sampela wok moa clerks. the preposition bilong is often reduced to /bloÎ/. Morphology. for example: ol skul bois na gels `the school boys and girls. G. how one writer of Tok Pisin may use both methods inconsistently.d:/weng/16-2/25-2.' But again. All we can conclude is that English is one of the factors that is influencing some phonological distinctions for some speakers in some areas.' The second is the use of the English -s plural. 1979. 1992). this is morphophonological reduction (Lynch. The first is the TP use of ol as a NP non-obligatory proclitic. MuÈhlhaÈusler points out that -s plural marking is unsystematic and results from language mixing (1986: 241). as in Sampela gels i wok long pilai basketbol `Some girls are playing basketball. Romaine (1992: 237) notes that in her detailed data on plural marking. in the Tok Pisin of young urban speakers. /blo/ or even /bl/ as in dok bilong em `his dog' pronounced as /dok blem/. As Romaine points out (238). Smith.' This seems to indicate that the TP system is still in operation.3d ± 4/9/97 ± 10:13 ± tm/mp Pidgin and English in Melanesia: is there a continuum? 191 contrasts. radio announcers and other jobs' Thus. Also. as in Em i lukim ol bikpela pik `He saw the big pigs. `The occurrence of wanpela inseks [`one insect'] indicates a case where the form was borrowed in the plural. This is not a pidgin-to-English continuum. there is no regular correlation with social factors such as the urban-rural distinction or age of the speaker. for example. such as the nature of the substrate languages and variation earlier in Tok Pisin's history. as in ol gels and ol girl both being used to mean `the girls. the most likely words to occur in TP with the -s plural are those `that are copied from English on an ad hoc A Blackwell Publishers Ltd.

no. Some of these. namely the grammaticalization of bai as a future marker (see also Sankoff. but at present there is actually very little evidence of two competing systems of morphological plural marking in TP. .' and those from other languages.aspect prefixes (Lynch.and la. Only 2 percent are `nonce-formations' of words of non-English origin with the -s plural. such as new prepositions and new causal conjunctions. . as well as those with double marking. only 9 percent of the -s marked forms are exclusively TP words (i. also have nothing to do with English. Linguistic evidence is also found in Romaine's (1992) work. 1997 . (Wantok.' 379: 6) MuÈhlhaÈusler (1986: 245) says that this construction began as a calque on written English. For example.. however. may reflect English syntax. but points out that it has diverged from English usage as it is no longer restricted to human referent. embedded sentences with hau and comparatives with mo . may indicate the beginning of a linguistic change.' Romaine (1992: 244±317) discusses the other TP relativizer we and additional syntactic developments.3d ± 4/9/97 ± 10:13 ± tm/mp 192 Jeff Siegel basis. long. Other relatively recent developments in TP morpho- syntax. such as kiau `egg').' Two features. but their distribution is not known: post pidgin normal usage Yu lukim hau ol i sindaun Yu lukim ol i sindaun olsem wanem `See how they live' Em i mo bikpela long mi Em i bikpela winim mi `He's bigger than me' Both MuÈhlhaÈusler (1985a: 140. These developments. can be considered as lexical borrowings which have been around for a long time. 1977) and the `degrammaticalization' of i as the predicate marker. adapted into TP from English or ambiguously either English or Tok Pisin. Second.e. A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. 1981). such as ov in Haus ov Assembli `House of Assembly. bikos `because' can even be found in Mihalic's 1971 dictionary. Syntax. such as mambu `bamboo. 1979). for example: Na i gat planti nesenel politik man husat i givin `And there are many national politicians who sapot bilong ol i go long pati ya.' Romaine's study (1992: 226±32) shows that -s plural marking occurs more frequently in urban areas and that there is a correlation between its use and amount of schooling. according to the data. 1986: 245±6) and Romaine (1992: 297±8) deal with the relatively recent innovation in TP writing and broadcasting of using husat `who' as a relativizer in addition to its normal use as an interrogative pronoun (Siegel. Instead. The existence of these forms. MuÈhlhaÈusler (1985a: 138±40) lists several syntactic `post-pidgin' features of TP.d:/weng/16-2/25-2. Lynch (1979: 5) also notes that it occurs mainly among TP speakers who are also fluent in English. she classifies 107 out of a total of 195 types (about 55 percent) of -s plural marking as `nonce plural formations' (233). as in the following: East New Britain em wanpela long ol tripela `East New Britain is one of the three pro- Provinces husat i bin kisim ful pawa bilong em vinces which has got complete power for yet (Radio Morobe. those with nontransparent English origin. the remainder are clearly English. such as pikininis `children' and muruks `cassowaries' (238). are not related to English. First of all. 29/6/1981) itself. are giving their support to this party. such as the sa. there is variation in the degree of transference of English plural forms into TP. Others are part of borrowed phrases.

These include English replacements for former German loans. Australian English. Hall also talks about urban-rural differences in vocabulary existing 40 years ago (105). e. there appears to have been little effect of English on the developing grammar of TP. as in em i bin sik `she was sick. gut taim instead of gutpela taim `good time'.I/ for /e/ as in /na. for example plen for hobel `plane.g. e. and (d) use of bin as a past marker.2 English-influenced innovations in the past In an article published more than 40 years ago. one innovation he lists is the additional consonant clusters.g. (d) use of English and /ñn/ and but as conjunctions. Since access to English began to increase even more after the 1950s because of access to education. they would be found at the acrolectal end.' els `otherwise.g. 1997 .' However. was English. except for lexical items. Hall (1955) describes many linguistic innovations that had taken place in TP since the 1930s. a few are no longer commonly found. The following innovations described by Hall are not features of any variety of current TP: (a) omission of the -pela suffix on adjectives. On the other hand. e..d:/weng/16-2/25-2. 1985a: 135).' and single English items for compounds.g.' However. and that if there was a continuum. The main source of these innovations. e. (b) /ts/ for what is /tS/ or /D/ in words from English. twenti instead of tupela ten `twenty. for example: damis `damage. as I will now illustrate. 3. /a. more specifically. and (c) supposedly Australian pronunciations of certain vowels. e.3d ± 4/9/97 ± 10:13 ± tm/mp Pidgin and English in Melanesia: is there a continuum? 193 Thus.' and farawe `faraway.g.. wanem ples `whatever place' or `any place'. (b) use of the indefinite articles a and an (still only in loan phrases). and thus no evidence of the kind of restructuring which characterizes a post-pidgin/ creole continuum.g. mentioned in section 3. However. such as opis for haus pepa `office. (c) use of the -ing verbal suffix (see also MuÈhlhaÈusler. Morphology. Phonology. These include: (a) use of the suffix -pela with polysyllabic adjectives.' A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. (c) use of save `know' as a habitual marker (mentioned above). many of the morphological innovations listed by Hall are found in current TP. this does not appear to be the case.1. but they cannot really be attributed to the influence of English. (b) use of the English number system. The following innovations described by Hall are not commonplace features of current TP: (a) /T/ and /D/ as additional phonemes. /tum@ts/ `very' (4 too much). e. Lexicon. (b) use of husat `who' and wanem `what' with additional indefinite functions. Most of the lexical innovations described by Hall still exist in PNG.' The morphological innovations that can be attributed to English are: (a) -s plural marking (already discussed)..Im/ for /nem/ `name. he said. we would expect that these innovations would have been reinforced. yelopela `yellow'.' Significantly.

' An English kind of dative construction in TP is mentioned by Hall (105). 1997 . but it is not clear to me that it is really due to `post-pidgin' influence: post-pidgin normal usage Em i givim mi liklik pe Em i givim liklik pe long mi `He gave me a little pay' At the end of the study. morphology (except for the numeral system) and clause-structure. Hall concludes (108±9): .3d ± 4/9/97 ± 10:13 ± tm/mp 194 Jeff Siegel With regard to -s plural marking.' (b) possessor + head NPs. we would expect not only the influence of English on Tok Pisin but also the influence of Tok Pisin on PNG English (PNGE). if this was developing as a competing system in TP 40 years ago. Syntax. such as bubu `grandparent. however. This is not what we would expect if TP was under structural pressure from English. The adoption of the English number system. little if any such influence can be found. These are terms for some relatives. are relatively untouched. A small set of TP words have come into PNGE. mo planti instead of planti tumas `very much. The two most basic aspects. in the order given. the following innovations in phrase structure are not found in current TP except in loan phrases: (a) attribute + head NPs. such as gavmen skul `government school. As Hall puts it (109). grandchild' and tambu `in-law' (see Holzknecht.g. 1989). Mista Roberts trak instead of trak bilong Mista Roberts `Mr Roberts' truck'. Again.' 3. then the influence from English seems again to be mostly in the lexical area. phrase-structure and phonemics. Restructuring had not begun to any extent. and for typically Papua New Guinean items. However. The fact that it is not is further evidence that its use in current TP is more indicative of transference than restructuring. but it is more a lexical than a morphological innovation. with the exception of the lexicon. If we consider that the innovations in phrase structure he describes are mainly in loan phrases. e. [T]he chief respects in which Neo-Melanesian [a now obsolete term for TP] is being affected by recent innovations are those of vocabulary. `These considerations would suggest that. . .. for example: wantok `speaker of the same language' bilum `string bag' kaukau `sweet potato' kumu `spinach-like greens' singsing `traditional singing and dancing' mumu `earth oven' A Blackwell Publishers Ltd..d:/weng/16-2/25-2. e. despite present-day innovations under cultural pressure from English. we would expect it to be more widespread in current TP. Neo-Melanesian is keeping its individuality and independence of linguistic structure. has permeated virtually all varieties of TP.g. and nearly all those innovations which were recorded did not last or become more widespread. as well as into the English spoken by expatriates living in the country. (c) adverb + adjective.3 The linguistic features of PNG English If a pidgin-to-English continuum exists in PNG.

The TP tense and aspect markers. Smith 1978: 36) Now we are knowing about the continuous tenses (A. 1988b: 133) Singapore English: She use(d) to go to Pulau Tikus market (she still does) PNGE: You use to look at these things carefully. a recent TP innovation with a form derived from English.-M. Smith. An examination of PNGE grammar. In contrast. some PNGE expressions are clearly loan translations from TP.' However. PMGE is affected by speakers' first languages.-M. Smith 1978: 21) Also. 1994: 52): Tok Pisin PNG English Aboriginal English 1 inclusive dual yumi (tupela) we me'n'you 1 exclusive dual mipela we me 'n' him/her 1 exclusive plural mipela we us mob/we 2 dual yutupela you you-two 2 plural yupela you you-mob/youse 3 dual (em)tupela they them/those/two 3 plural ol they them/that-mob With regard to PNGE morphology. Smith (1988a) shows that. For example. are also not found in PNGE (A.-M. but me I don't (A.' arere `border. in the creole-to-English continuum in Australia. . 1997 . Smith. shows virtually no influence from TP. e.3d ± 4/9/97 ± 10:13 ± tm/mp Pidgin and English in Melanesia: is there a continuum? 195 laplap `sarong or wrap-around piece of material' pitpit `edible wild sugar cane' bilas `decoration (including make-up and jewellery)' Other English words with shifted meaning appear to have come into TP and PNGE around the same time. 1988b: 126) A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. and so this is not a fruitful area of comparison.-M. and the use of progressive aspect with stative verbs: I ask him to come yesterday (A. as with TP. for example pikinini `child. similar distinctions in Australian Kriol are found in some varieties of Aboriginal English (Harkins. For example. and no marking of transitive verbs with the -im suffix or by any other means. there is no marking of adjectives analogous to the use of the -pela suffix in TP. for example raskol/rascal `criminal.d:/weng/16-2/25-2. does not have parallel usage in PNGE. 1988b). . PNGE is more similar to other indigenized varieties of English than to TP. the inclusive-exclusive and dual-plural distinctions of the TP pronoun system are not reflected in PNGE.g.-M. regularization of plurals in mass and count nouns. edge.. give sixty from givm siksti `go very quickly. A. Smith 1988a: 303) When our homeworks were not done .' malumalu `soft' and surik or suruk `move back. 1984: 71): Singapore English: You finish makan already? (Have you already eaten?) PNGE: She finish already (A. there are some specific features of PNGE found in other indigenized varieties but not in TP ± for example.' With regard to phonology. (A. most common words which are exclusively identified with TP are not generally heard in normal PNGE conversation.' Also.-M. such as save (habitual) and pinis (completive). in terms of structure. however. it is characterized by variable grammatical marking (based on English) in the NP and VP.. the use of already to show completion and use to for present habitual. as in Singapore English (Platt et al. Smith. In fact. Even the bin past marker.-M.

eh? Okay. . yupela tumbuna bilong mama i stap. you see. You have land. I'm a married man. you must know this. English lexical items used within the TP system are written in small italic capitals. 212): A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. . They just tell us every stories ± it's nothing. As in the example of transference above. yu wok long gaden. 1991) and Romaine (1989b.4 Code-switching Frequent code-switching between TP and English has been described by MuÈhlhaÈusler (1982. olsem papa bilong mama bilong yu. [What he said is true. [The government will buy it. [. Yumi tok ol Papua bilong sarim maus ya. An example of TP-English code-switching is given below ± a conversation transcribed from a documentary film. that's your place too. Here are some examples: Gapun-TP (Kulick and Stroud. . you give it fertilizer and it will be great. Translations of the TP are given in square brackets. following Clyne (1987: 740).] Conversational code-switching (and transference) is common in PNG. [The place is turning into a desert.] Speaker 3: (unclear) toktok em i tru ya. Speaker 2: Tumbuna bilong yu i gat nem long ples. As in most cases. yumi gat. but between TP and other languages. salim long maket. which do not involve changing systems. a? Oke. You must think . Speaker 5: Oh no way. . you'll see these hills will just have houses standing on them. like your mother's father. Mi tu mi save pilim sampela taim. Yu gat graun. . Speaker 2: Okay. . 1990: 210. if I take Rigo people and go and stay at your Kainantu clan's place. it is easy to determine which grammatical system is being used. em ples bilong yu tu. what will you say? Get out? It's not your land. eh?] Speaker 4: Na yu tu yu maritman yu mas go long ples ya! [And you're a married man so you should go back to the village!] Speaker 2: Yupela ya you living on people's land. then yu lukim if mi kisim ol lain Rigo na go slip long Kainantu haus lain bilong yu. . too many education people are here ± form one up to form two. Yu mas ting . go back home and start a garden or a coffee garden. mi gat pikinini tu.] Speaker 2: Ples i go desert nau. Buang and Kaiep. 1997 . We stay in Port Moresby now and look! I also feel it some time. sell it at the market. . and many examples have been recorded not only between TP and English. yumi gat papa gat tumbuna na yumi kamap. yu planim kaikai.d:/weng/16-2/25-2. [As for the coffee garden. then you see. I've got kids too. then you have your own land. I no longtaim after one hundred years time bai yu lukim ol maunten olsem haus stanap haus stanap. Like. 1992).] Speaker 2: Lukim. a? [Look. It won't be long . Speaker 1: Government tell us they got no money. you work in the garden. Cowboy and Maria in Town. 1985a. Here both TP (in italics) and English are given in standard orthography. who will pay the bloody fuckin' wanem [what]. We tell Papuans to keep quiet. oke yu gat graun bilong yu. You see. as opposed to transfer- ence or nonce borrowing (mentioned above). you plant food. Olsem mi maritman olsem. we have fathers and grandfathers and then we're born. Code-switching. yu mas save dispela. refers to changing from one grammatical system to another. bai yu tok wanem? Get out! It's not your land. Taim yumi stap long Mosbi na lukim. ignoring phonological peculiarities. [If your ancestors are known in the village. fellows.3d ± 4/9/97 ± 10:13 ± tm/mp 196 Jeff Siegel 3. such as Gapun. Items that could belong to either system are written in large capitals. three ± no job ± you see.] Speaker 4: Gavman bai i baim.] So. there's your mother's predecessors. a? (unclear dialogue) Speaker 2: COFFEE GARDEN i stap yu givim fertilizer na em nambatu bai i kamap.

d:/weng/16-2/25-2.g. Thus. 3.' However. there are no intermediate forms of the type we find in typical post-pidgin/creole continua. as well as a continuum within PNG English. while there may be a continuum between rural and urban sociolects within Tok Pisin.' This data backs up his conclusion. 1986). `If you're the only one sitting down (i. MuÈhlhaÈusler refers to the post-pidgin stage of development in TP. which clearly involves the existence of a post-creole continuum (DeCamp. Put that thing there. As already mentioned. while it is sometimes difficult to determine exactly where code-switching or transference may be occurring. In an earlier work (1982: 455). it is clear that his definition of `post-pidgin' does not necessarily involve a post-pidgin continuum.e. Also.. 1997 . In this way. closer examination of her examples (322) reveals that they are not really intermediate varieties but utterances in which some lexical forms and structures could be either Tok Pisin or English.5 Intermediate forms While MuÈhlhaÈusler (1985a: 147) claims that `there is no continuum of constructions intermediate between English and Tok Pisin. the two systems have retained their separate identity and there is no evidence of a continuum A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. 1985a. shown here with the conventions used earlier in this article: Who sa kisim brown ? Husa(t) kisim brown ? Thus. MuÈhlhaÈusler (1985a: 132) points out that code-switching usually occurs at grammatical boundaries. Yu go pastaim. `Only Karok lives with me. With regard to Tok Pisin. it is noteworthy that all these examples come from schoolchildren who have recently been exposed to English and who have possibly not yet separated the codes properly. doing nothing). there is not necessarily a mixing of grammatical forms from two systems.' With regard to TP and English.' Romaine (1992: 321) refers to `intermediate varieties' of TP and English resulting from code-switching. 1985: 549): Karok no ai wantaim gia. he equates post-pidgin TP to an urban sociolect (1982: 454).. 1971: 371). `What are you looking for in my basket?' Buang-TP (Sankoff. You go then. his definitions of post-pidgin differs from that of post-creole. what Romaine gives as Who sa/husa(t) kisim brown? `Who gets the brown [crayon]?' could have two possible interpretations. 1976: 303): Îau ti Îmodo bai ol i kot stret long yu. Ndé kawO amana. he concludes: `That code-switching can be pinpointed is an indication that one is not dealing with a post- pidgin continuum.' Kaiep-TP (Ross. Since in this and later works (e.' Painimn wanem samting long sapwar bilong mi. In fact. `You go. while at the same time saying that `no continuum intermediate between Tok Pisin and English has yet emerged' (1982: 454).3d ± 4/9/97 ± 10:13 ± tm/mp Pidgin and English in Melanesia: is there a continuum? 197 Mi maÎgawna. For example. then. she concludes (323): `The existence of these intermediate varieties is a sign that decreolization is already advanced in urban areas like Lae. they'll take you straight to court.

The extensive restructuring which normally defines post-pidgins/creoles has not occurred in PNG.d:/weng/16-2/25-2. and the status of MP. 4. The degree of code-switching varies among bilingual Pijin speakers. not restructuring due to pressure from English. but it would be an over-simplification to assume that increasing contact with English will make Bislama more like English. it is mainly in the lexicon. Variation among Tok Pisin speakers has to do with the degree of bilingualism and the amount of transference and code-switching between the systems. the question arises as to why this is so when continua do supposedly exist in other places with apparently similar sociolinguistic conditions.' There is also some disagreement about the situation in Vanuatu. but it has not affected the structure of Pijin. However. and gives some examples of lexical differences between urban and rural varieties. She observes (33) that `heavy code-switching' to English frequently occurs in speech of bilingual urban speakers of Pijin. However. Watson-Gegeo (1987: 28) mentions that urban Pijin may be decreolizing. Like that of Tok Pisin. or development of a post- creole continuum. Tyron (1986) believes that an anglicized urban Bislama and the more conservative rural Bislama will be maintained as separate registers. In this section I will try to answer this question looking at two closely related factors: the distinctiveness of MP and English in Melanesia.' He also describes research which disconfirms the alleged comprehension gap between anglicized urban and rural varieties of Bislama. described by Crowley (1990a: 321±68). especially in grammatical areas. and predicts its eventual displacement by a local variety of English. the major source of syntactic expansion in Pijin is not English but its own internal resources. Charpentier (1984) describes the depidginization of Bislama since independence. While there is certainly evidence of the influence of English among educated speakers of Tok Pisin. 1997 . 3. SOCIO-CULTURAL AND POLITICAL FACTORS Since the evidence presented so far shows that there is no pidgin-to-English continuum in Melanesia. Thomas summarizes the situation as follows (249): [M]y own observations would suggest a narrowing of the gap between `rural' and `urban' Bislama.' She concludes that this influence `does not mean decreolization. Jourdan clearly illustrates the following point (34): `Code-switching is the most striking aspect of the influence of English on Pijin. It is undeniable that the better educated social group uses a more Anglicized form of Bislama. The presence in Vanuatu of a significant minority of Bislama/French bilinguals should ensure that the conditions required for the development of a post-creole Bislama/English continuum are not met. Thomas (1990: 251) points out that Charpentier's examples are mainly of `careless ``translationese'' found in the Government newspaper. A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. Grammatical expansion is again derived from the internal resources of the language. On the other hand. Jourdan (1989) comes to a different conclusion.6 Other Melanesian countries With regard to the Solomon Islands. Using examples from texts similar to those above for TP. This observation is backed up by an examination of recent developments in Bislama grammar and lexicon.3d ± 4/9/97 ± 10:13 ± tm/mp 198 Jeff Siegel between them.

g. 1978. 1983: 83): Planti bilong mipela bilong Papua Niugini i save gut tru long pisin. Planti taim mi save harim long redio olsem. This distinctiveness of MP has been maintained to this day in all three Melanesian countries by a variety of factors. 1990b). there has been a conscious effort by some. to be utilized by Melanesian speakers. when more widespread education in English began after the war. 1990: 174±5. the latter in all other spheres of non-traditional life. 1979: 151.1 Distinctiveness As mentioned before. Jourdan. Mihalic. The Catholic. since the two languages remained separate. Simons and Young. MuÈhlhaÈusler (1985a: 131) describes how the two languages maintained their distinctiveness. when both the Japanese and the Allies used it in propaganda pamphlets dropped by airplanes all over New Guinea (520). has been to use the more conservative rural sociolect rather than the more anglicized urban sociolect (Siegel. with the local vernaculars continuing to be used for traditional contexts. A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. 1985: 518). the policy of the Tok Pisin weekly newspaper. For example. to maintain the distinction between MP and English. many complaints about anglicized MP or the mixing of MP and English have been reported from speakers of all three varieties (MuÈhlhaÈusler. Church services are generally held in MP in urban areas. and has been forced to admit its use.' The development of Tok Pisin into a written language.d:/weng/16-2/25-2. who realized that it was not merely broken English but an independent language (Siegel. `the government has shown little or no discrimination against Pidgin. Thus. Methodist and Lutheran missions began publishing work in TP in the 1930s. ever since German rule in the late nineteenth century.3d ± 4/9/97 ± 10:13 ± tm/mp Pidgin and English in Melanesia: is there a continuum? 199 4. In addition. especially in PNG. The first is standardization and the availability of textbooks and dictionaries in all three varieties (e. In the case of Tok Pisin and English. Na tu planti bilong ol i no save harim na kisim gut wanem samting ol i toktok long en long redio. the fact that English was taught in most parts of Papua New Guinea after the Second World War was not a significant linguistic influence on Tok Pisin. Romaine. A lot of us in Papua New Guinea know Tok Pisin well but don't know English even a little.' The reasons for this distinction have to do with the history of the functions and development of the language. During the Second World War. Third is the continued separation in other important contexts. Many times I hear on the radio many people who mix English with Tok Pisin. Here is an example from a letter published in Wantok (Siegel. planti man long hap bilong mipela i save paul tru. Crowley. na tu yu save yusim ol hatpela inglis yu mas tinting gut na yu no ken paulim man neks taim. the former in the classroom and a very small set of official transactions. In fact. Hall (1966: 135) describes how in New Guinea. 1971. Tok Pisin was used for mass communication. in the 1970s Sankoff (1976: 308) pointed out that `the distinction between Tok Pisin and English is still very clear. 1990: 250). 1997 . Second is the continued use of MP alongside English in radio broadcasting in all three countries and in newspapers and government publications in PNG and Vanuatu. in written as well as spoken form. 1992: 325. Olsem na mobeta ol redio anaunsa o ol manmeri husat i bin skul long tok inglis. was initiated in the 1920s by Catholic missionaries. i tingting gut pastaim na bihain toktok long pablik ples. and translations of the New Testament of the Bible exist in all three dialects of MP. Wantok. Thomas. Sapos wanpela brata oi susa i save gut long tok pisin. Tok Pisin was already established as a distinct language with its own writing system. tasol i no save long tok inglis liklik.. 1985: 531). planti man husat i bin skul long inglis i save miksim tok inglis wantaim tok pisin. Long dispela tasol. especially religion.

1987: 28). However. it would be better if the radio announcers or people who have learned English think before talking in public.600 students (Bob Litteral. 1997 . There is no sign of antipathy to Tok Pisin. 1992) also shows similar attitudes: 87 percent of the respondents report that A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. In 1991. And recently. hundreds of community-based pre-schools had been established. 1990). Watson-Gegeo. 1992). Bislama has also been the subject of study and medium of instruction for a second-year level university course at the University of the South Pacific (Crowley. you should think carefully and not confuse people next time. Although many people. done in 1984 and 1986 (Swan and Lewis. In none of the countries is MP an official educational language. 1990c: 13±14) and is the medium of instruction in both the Police and Marine Training Schools (Asian Development Bank/Australia Development Assistance Bureau Joint Technical Assistance Team. personal communication. If you're a brother or sister who knows Tok Pisin well and you use hard English.2 Status As already stated.' And Wurm (1985: 73) notes that many Papua New Guineans `look upon Tok Pisin as a means for their self-identification as a language which is their own and a distinguishing feature of all that is Papua New Guinean' (see also Kale. The results show the following (224±5): There is no sign that present undergraduates are adopting English as their `language of preference' (whether for prestige or practical reasons) . Bislama is the national language. . 1993: 303±4). Bislama is used in primary and pre-school teacher training (Crowley. a linguistics MA thesis on Tok Pisin grammar has been written in Tok Pisin. The PNG government remains hesitant to give any official support to Tok Pisin. where. especially in PNG and the Solomon Islands. Romaine. This informal. MP has official status only in Vanuatu. teaching initial literacy in over 90 languages. Jourdan (1990: 177) illustrates how Pijin has more recently become `the symbol and cradle of new Melanesian aspirations and identities.d:/weng/16-2/25-2. 1992: 331. 4. 1985a: 131. The Solomon Islands National Literacy Committee (1992: 6) notes that Pijin is the de facto medium of instruction in most primary schools and recommends that it should become the official medium. The third most popular language to be chosen by communities was Tok Pisin with over 1. In PNG. do have ambivalent views toward MP in comparison with English (MuÈhlhaÈusler. Crowley (1990c) describes the importance of Bislama as the language of national unity in Vanuatu.3d ± 4/9/97 ± 10:13 ± tm/mp 200 Jeff Siegel Because of this many people from our area get really confused. Tok Pisin is widely used in church education programs and in the more recent Tok Ples (vernacular) Pre-school programs (Siegel. as well as an important symbol of national identity in each Melanesian country. Another source of positive attitudes is related to the role of MP as a language of unity and solidarity. So. 1990). these attitudes do not appear to be the result of eÂlitism. as well as an official language along with English and French. functional status of MP both reflects and enhances the positive attitudes people have toward the language. A survey of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu students at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji (Wale. 1987). the Solomon Islands National Literacy Committee (1992: 3) recommends that Pijin should be adopted as the national language of the country. And many of them don't understand well what they're talking about on the radio. In Vanuatu. according to the constitution. but its use in education is widespread. . 1990c: 12±13). This observation is backed up by a survey of the use of TP and English among university students.

5. 1992). Pidginization and Creolization of Languages. These factors have prevented the development of a pidgin- to-English continuum in Melanesia. NOTES 1. but more common than English among the English-educated. Libby Fitzgerald. I would like to thank Terry Crowley. LePage. Among the French-educated. Even though Melanesian Pidgin continues to coexist with its lexifier. but the national census of 1976 lists 87 (Watson- Gegeo. For the purpose of this paper. and its speakers have access to English through the education system. pp. REFERENCES Aitchison.d:/weng/16-2/25-2. Alleyne. Fiji is on the borderline between Melanesia and Polynesia. the development of a post-pidgin (or post-creole) continuum has not taken place in spite of the ideal sociolinguistic conditions for this next stage of the proposed life-cycle. Tyron and Hackman (1983) give the figure of 63 languages. Thus. according to this view. was also widely used as a lingua franca in the southern part of the country. for example. however. Mervyn C. Even in only English-educated company. English. Port Moresby (Siegel. especially in urban areas such as the capital. 1987: 31 n). The absence of extensive depidginization or decreolization in Melanesia may also support the view that a post-creole continuum is not the result of decreolization. Diana Eades. 1971. Melanesian Pidgin is the primary language of only a minority of its speakers and acquired as a second language by the majority. 6. In other words.g. 1977). 5. Bislama is still preferred. 1979). Although many scholars (e. Expanded pidgins. but since independence. On the other hand. Hiri (or Police) Motu. whereas creoles are not. it is included in Melanesia. Jean (1981) Language Change: Progress or Decay. 3. (1971) Acculturation and the cultural matrix of creolization. Edited by Dell Hymes. we would not expect to find a pidgin-to-English continuum in Melanesia because there never has been one. IMPLICATIONS The situation in Melanesia clearly does not support the classic `life-cycle' view of pidgin/ creole development (Hall. is the primary language of nearly all its speakers. and where contact between English-speakers and indentured Melanesians was more extensive). London: Fontana Paperbacks. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. John Lynch and Geoff Smith for helpful comments and suggestion on earlier drafts of this article.3d ± 4/9/97 ± 10:13 ± tm/mp Pidgin and English in Melanesia: is there a continuum? 201 they are proud to be `Pidgin speakers' and 93 percent indicate they are not ashamed to speak MP in the presence of `non-Pidgin speakers. but with an Austronesian lexifier. Thus. 179±86. whereas Jamaican Creole is not. not only according to geography but also in terms of culture. are still very much contact varieties. there are differences in both their functional use and their susceptibility to influences from other languages. 2. it is being displaced by Tok Pisin. then. A Blackwell Publishers Ltd. the use of French is also rare. but reflects a spectrum of variation that has existed since much earlier stages of development (Alleyne. Tok Pisin is susceptible to substrate influence (from the first language of its speakers). and is transmitted and acquired as their first language. 4. Another pidgin language. There is no historical evidence of such variation in Melanesia (although it may have existed in Australia.3 Conclusion The codification of the different dialects of MP and the expansion of their use into many important domains have kept them distinct from English as well as given them status as languages of national identity. extensive depidginization (or decreolization) has not occurred. Jamaican Creole.' 4. where Melanesian Pidgin began to stabilize on the sugarcane plantations. 1966). 1997 . language and racial characteristics (Bellwood. Mufwene. [1988] ) point out that there are no linguistic differences between creoles and expanded pidgins.

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