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PIDGIN

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PIDGIN

Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:49 pm

• pidgin •


Pronunciation: pi-jin • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A simplified jury-rigged system of verbal communication based on the nouns, verbs, and adjectives of one language, excluding grammatical or function words and affixes (the likes of the, of, this, -ing, -s), constructed for the purpose of conducting commerce between two peoples speaking different languages.

Notes: Commerce and trade between nations require a common language or exceptionally good translation companies. In colonial times, before translation companies like our own Lexiteria appeared, traders had to create a working language, usually based on that of the colonizer: pidgin English, pidgin French, pidgin Portuguese and so forth. In pidgin English, "Dat-man wok haad" is the equivalent of "He is/was/will be working hard" in standard English. Function words and affixes that define the grammar of the language are omitted. (Dat-man is treated as one word.)

In Play: When a generation begins speaking a pidgin as its native language, the pidgin becomes a creole. A creole is a real language with all the grammatical markers of a regular language (pronouns, tense markers, plural markers, etc.). However, the children speaking this language for the first time make these function words from regular nouns, verbs, and adjectives. "Dat-man don wok haad" in a creole would be "He worked hard" where don(e) has become a past tense marker (function word).

Word History: Today's interesting word is an old Chinese corruption of the English word business. Chinese syllables cannot end on any consonant except N, so the final Ss in this word are out from the start. The medial S was apparently taken to be a J by early Chinese traders. So, it is not a word for the birds but a word that means "business" quite literally. That makes sense since, as mentioned above, pidgins are makeshift communications systems for the purpose of conducting trade. (Our thanks to Mark Angney for flying to the rescue of today's oft-misunderstood word.)
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Re: PIDGIN

Postby MTC » Sat Nov 03, 2012 8:08 am

I had always visualized pidgins being spoken somewhere "out there" on exotic, palm fronded-islands between linen clad traders and scantily clad natives. But now I have come to the disquieting realization pidgin may have been spoken right here at home (our linguistic home, that is) in England between French speaking Norman conquerers and English speaking commoners:

"Recent insights from sociolinguistics into the structures of pidgin and creole language have led some linguists to ask whether Middle English was a creole. Much of the ensuing controversy hinges on the definitions that are given to pidgin and creole. A pidgin is a simplified language used for communication between speakers of different languages, typically (during the past five centuries) for trading purposes between speakers of a European language such as Portuguese, Spanish, French, orEnglish and speakers of an African or Asian language. If the simplified language is then learned as a first language by a new generation of speakers and its structures and vocabulary are expanded toserve the needs of its community of speakers, it is known as a creole. The linguistic situation in England during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries had certain external parallels with that in the present-day Caribbean or the South Pacific, where languages are regularly in contact, and pidgins and creoles develop. "

(http://www.slideshare.net/AbdelfattahAd ... t-10409646)

English Serf speaking creole: "Dis smol swain i bin go fo maket."
(This little pig went to market.)

Norman Lord: "Oui."
Last edited by MTC on Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: PIDGIN

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 12:25 pm

That is a most informative article and enhances the
merging of Norman and English, and it is easy to see
how the concept of "pidgin" existed. Thanks for it.
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Re: PIDGIN

Postby MTC » Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:54 pm

"Pa gen pwoblem" - No problem!
(in Hatian creole)
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Re: PIDGIN

Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:16 pm

MTC: On my first reading, I missed your era of discussion. I was reluctant to discuss English from Celtic to modern day, because the scope is too wide and my expertise is not great. But since you started with the Norman reign of England, my task is easier. English barely existed when the Normans came. We term this language Old English. It was a Germanic dialect at the time, complete with a highly inflected grammar. Norman French was a French dialect and not a very good one at that. There seems to have been little interface between Norman French and Old English as it developed into Middle English under the cloak of Norman French. The "swine versus pork" conversation in Scott's "Ivanhoe" is a humorous take off on the two languages as well as his testimony to the lack of any language merger. During the Norman period, and more so later, English adapted many French words. Normans did most of their business through Saxon lords who may have known or been influenced by Latin and certainly, knowing on which side their bread was buttered, learned Norman French as a means of survival. The vast majority of English people went about turning their language into Middle English with no help from the Normans. There would never have been an occasion for a Norman pidgin. English was certainly never a Norman creole. As I understand the history of the development of Modern English, we moved through the Old English to Middle English to Modern English sequence quite on our own. This is best seen in the shift in grammar. From the get go, English was borrowing foreign words from wherever it could find them.

I would be glad to read studies to the contrary. Please recommend some web sources.
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Re: PIDGIN

Postby MTC » Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:38 am

Google "Middle English creole hypothesis" for a number of studies on the controversy. Here's a start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Eng ... hypothesis
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Re: PIDGIN

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:27 pm

MTC: Thanks for the Middle English creole references. I have examined them. It seems to me that the proponents are saying, "Middle English is a creole because what I mean by creole is what Middle English is." I hope the Good Doctor will weigh in on this. He is the expert.
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