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Fakultet za pravne

i poslovne studije,USEE Novi Sad

Pidgin and Creole Languages (Relationships, Origins and Characteristics)

Student: Sanja Arsenovid 367/11 August 2013

Word Count: 1561

Professor: Dorin Drambarean


Humanity has a vast array of cultures under its belt and each culture has its own way of communicating. This can be through signs, symbols, and most importantly, words. Language is a feature unique to human beings. A vice of language, however, is that if one is not a speaker of language in question, communication becomes difficult. This has been proven when different cultures have encountered each other and have tried to find ways to communicate in an understandable manner. This is how Pidgin and Creole languages have developed. The term pidgin generally re fers to a contact language that develops where groups are in dominant, subordinate situation, often in the context of colonization. Generally, at least two or more language groups must be involved and contact must be maintained for a prolonged period of ti me. Pidgins are languages that are lexically derived from other languages, with simplified structures. They form when the need to communicate arises between two people who have no common language. Pidgin languages have been created in many places and time s, usually for trade between two parties. They may be based on any language, for example, English or French. It is used as a lingua franca, as a second language between people with different mother tongues. A pidgin becomes a creole when it becomes a popul ations first language. Origins and Relationships Most languages are derived from their ancestors through an unbroken seamless chain of normal language transmission (despite the conveniently labeled chunks that go Old-Middle-Modern): each generation of speakers inherits their language from previous generations intact, with only a few minor changes. Change is almost imperceptible. In this process, major changes can take place and new languages emerge, but only gradually over centuries even millennia. Rapid growth or loss of languages-- is nearly all due to contact between languages. Contact can happen between 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: In a situation providing great motivation for speakers to communicate (and often of dramatic social inequality), resulting in very rapid language change and evolution. The origin could be a kind of jargon to facilitate trade, expanded to assume a greater communicative role as an ancillary language, but one which falls short of that of the native languages of the pidgin speakers. Thus neither Pidgins nor Creoles come about by normal language change & transmission but: Both come about through normal processes of language contact, i.e. Both are natural, developed through contact but not artificial/invented. Creoles are complete languages; pidgins aren't. Pidgins are new; creoles have had time to develop.

Pidgins lack complete grammatical machinery. If it's the primary input for children growing up in a stable pidgin-speaking community, what is likely to happen? >formal complexity and speakers use features of the more complex pidgin to mark social identity. As an emergent L1 this variety is known as a creole. There's no reliable purely-structural definition of Cs, and similarly no hard-and-fast structural distinction between Ps and Cs. Social and historical information is necessary to distinguish them from each other, and from older languages which developed through normal language transmission. Old-fashioned treatments of the differences between Pidgins, Creoles and older languages have often been too simple and even factually incorrect. If we compare the case of typical Pidgins and Creoles, 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; Pidgin grammars are "reduced" by comparison to their input languages, whether superstrate or substrate. Creoles are expanded by comparison to Pidgins, but not necessarily more elaborate than, or as elaborate as, their input languages. Some of the definitions: 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. A pidgin could serve as a lingua 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. Some of the characteristics of Pidgins are that they: are the contact languages or lingua franca that arose naturally (not like e.g. Esperanto) do not have native speakers are reduced in linguistic form and grammar are restricted in contexts of use are typically unstable and highly mixed may sometimes be a stable variety with norms of acceptability, But are NOT a fully adequate natural language. Derive from the process of pidginization typically evolve from trade or plantation situations... are the products of incomplete Second Language Acquisition have small core vocabularies, and borrow extensively, have very surfacy grammar, much variation but little system,

and socio-linguistically have no (or incoherent) norms of interpretation; have limited domains for expressive and communicative functions; typically either die out or evolve into creoles... A Creole, on the other hand: does have native speakers has developed, through expansion in linguistic form and grammar, And through extension in use (communicative & expressive functions), Into a full-fledged, complete and adequate natural language which is typically stable and autonomous in its norms 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 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; have much variation but coherent sociolinguistic norms (of evaluation/interpretation) have wider domains & are used more for expressive/communicative purposes... may remain stable over long periods or merge toward standard languages (decreolize). 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) Historical explanations: 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 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). Universalist explanations: 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 first-language 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 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. They both are very complex and interesting and it is clear that new things are being discovered about them at a frequent rate. They are very adoptable to times of change, which is likely a direct reflection of its users of both yesterday and today.