Pidginisation & Creolisation: How The New Languages Develop

Apr 05

Whether a language is an artifact or not has always been a topic of debate and criticism. How the human language is originated, the researchers and critics are not able to reach on a consensus solution till now. We have only theories and critical perspectives which attest the cognitive quality of language origination and development.

Not much has been said with clarity how a native language would first have come into existence as the historians in sociolinguistic lack adequate evidence! But yes, sociolinguistics does talk about the complex and cognitive relationship that these native languages spoken by different speech communities share in a co-existing environment using the concepts of Pidgin & Creole.

Evolution of Pidgin Into A New Standard Language

Today, we have more than 8000 indigenous and standard languages spoken across the world, and much more are still being discovered. People from different cultures, regions and speech communities come together only to produce a third language for communication which is termed as pidgin. The desired condition or inevitable situation where the two speech communities exist together but do not share the common language, leads to a production of the new language- pidgin. Pidginisation is the first step towards the development of a new language which take years and years to complete.

For understanding the pidgin, take an example of the British colonial era which was the time when over 500 of pidgin languages were formed. The British colonists had English as their native and only language where the colonies (India, Africa, Vietnam, etc.) had their indigenous languages. During colonization, the Britishers, as well as the natives, used to have miscommunication as both would not understand each other’s’ languages at all. And there comes an advent of the pidgin.
Such pidgins are the languages formed through the process of hybridization of the counter or cross cultures and languages initially functioned only as the means of communication. Each language adopted the others’ vocabulary, grammar rules, and other features without forgetting its own. So, the foreign vocabulary with own grammar, syntactic ordering or style becomes the language blend- the pidgin.

This process of new language formation through the blend of two different languages is called pidginisation. Pidgin is often considered lingua franca due to the identical features they both share. Where lingua franca is a bridging language having no defined set of grammar or rules, pidgin has a weak, fragmented set of both to be called a language. In brief, call pidgin a third language produced by the blending of the multiple languages. And this is not left untouched by the language politics!

The hierarchy or dominance of the languages does play a very important role in the formation of pidgin. In the process, one language is known as substrate (base) language in which the superstrate language is blended. But which language would have to incorporate the features of which has been a question. During the colonial era, English remained a powerful language and the natives’ the suppressed or poor class language. So, the natives have to blend the superstrate language in their mother-tongue!

But this is all about pidgin, how creole is formed? When this simple and ordinary pidgin is used or standardized for other purposes beyond just the communication, the pidgin becomes creole. A creole is more structured, well-developed, and definite form of pidgin used for the significant functions on larger scale by greater social groups after its complete acceptance. By acceptance, we mean when a new generation or offsprings use pidgin as the mother tongue, and for all the official processes of the region by the state government.

The standardization of loosely structured pidgin having a rough set of grammar, vocabulary involves the reformation and proper development of language rules. Today, we have Swahili, Hawaiian Creole language, and Jamaican Patwa all of which are now creoles. When the country standardizes the grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, expression, writing, etc., for official use, the citizens must accept it and use it in their daily life. That’s how the evolution of nascent pidgin language develops a new standardized language of a nation.

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