The BBC just announced that it will now be broadcasting in Pidgin for the West and Central African markets. But wait, what’s Pidgin? Is that even a language?
In fact, pidgin languages and creole languages can be found all over the world. Most them have historically been treated as the bastard children of European languages – denied recognition and looked down upon. But just as in Game of Thrones, it would be foolish to write off pidgins and creoles because of their parentage.
With that in mind, here are 8 things you need to understand about pidgins and creoles.
Isn’t Pidgin English just English with a heavy accent?
Nope. Pidgin languages are makeshift languages that arise whenever multi lingual groups have to communicate on a regular basis without a common language. This can happen because of trade, or as a result of slavery or colonization.
What’s the difference between pidgin languages and creoles?
Pidgin languages are generally simplified and flexible, with a limited vocabulary. Nobody speaks a pidgin language as a first language. But, over time, that can change. If a pidgin language becomes widely used, its vocabulary may grow and additional grammar rules may develop. Children may begin to grow up speaking it from birth. At that point, it’s considered a creole.
And just to make things confusing, since creole languages evolve from pidgins, many languages with “pidgin” in the name have actually evolved into creoles, like Tok Pisin, one of the official languages of New Guinea. Read more