Start Encyclopedia69 Dictionary | Overview | Topics | Groups | Categories | Bookmark this page.
dictionary -  encyclopedia  
Full text search :        
   A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z   #   



Pidgin And Creole Linguistics

  Pidgins and creoles are new language systems which are created with amazing rapidity, on occasion within the space of only one or two generations. Very often they arose as the distinctive by-product of European colonial exploits, though it should be stressed that there is a whole range of possible scenarios which might stimulate this kind of language formation. A paradigm case of pidginization arose with the transportation of slaves from a variety of linguistic backgrounds to an isolated plantation, under the domination of a European élite. The resultant linguistic melée created the need for a shared lingua franca, especially as the opportunities for learning a fully-fledged second language became severely limited.

The pidgin created under these conditions is the native language of no one, although it does draw on the linguistic resources of both the (superstratum) European language and the various (substratum) non-European languages. A common pattern has emerged, whereby the vocabulary originates largely with the superstratum language, while the phonology and syntax normally derive from the substratum languages. The linguistic resources of the resultant pidgin are invariably extremely limited in scope. For example, in the very early stages, the pidgin may operate with fewer than 100 words. The process of creolization is normally described as an expansion in the linguistic potential of the pidgin: the phonology, morphology, lexis and syntax of an emerging creole all show signs of elaboration from the original pidgin. Furthermore, the children of pidgin-speaking parents (and subsequent generations) can acquire a creole as a native language.

Numerous pidgins and creoles have arisen, quite independently, in disparate regions of the world, yet, remarkably, they often bear a strong resemblance to one another in terms of their underlying grammatical organization. It is a fundamental research problem to explain how entirely unrelated new language systems could have followed such similar patterns of development. Some have argued that we all share a common ability to simplify language in a uniform way, hence, the similar structure of pidgins in different parts of the world. The similarity of the social contexts in which pidgins occur has also been noted as a significant influence on pidginization. A recent controversial issue has been the extent to which creole studies can illuminate the concept of a genetically determined human language faculty. The problem arises for children born to pidgin-speaking parents, since it is assumed that pidgins provide a model of language which is too degenerate for the purposes of language learning. In order to compensate for the deficiencies of the pidgin, it has been suggested that children draw on the knowledge of language inborn in all humans. In this way, the child has the capacity to expand the linguistic resources of a pidgin into a creole.

Evidently, pidgins and creoles have proven to be highly systematic, and perhaps surprisingly, they exhibit universal characteristics, which cannot be explained by reference solely to historical processes of language change or social contact. Consequently, we must reject the superficial view that they constitute corrupt or haphazard admixtures of linguistic elements, which only merit our interest as wayward curiosities. Instead, the processes of pidginization and creolization have been studied with a view to the more profound questions which can be addressed concerning the nature of language and language learning. MS

See also innateness.Further reading P. Mühlhaüsler, Pidgin and Creole Linguistics; , S. Romaine, Pidgin and Creole Languages.



Bookmark this page:



<< former term
next term >>


Other Terms : Urbanism/Urbanization | Deconstruction | Intellect
Home |  Add new article  |  Your List |  Tools |  Become an Editor |  Tell a Friend |  Links |  Awards |  Testimonials |  Press |  News |  About |
Copyright ©2009 GeoDZ. All rights reserved.  Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us