Creole Language Development: Pidgin
When different groups of people want to open relations with each other, language can be as tremendous an obstacle as geography or distance. Typically, the initial contact is handled through sign language and a lot of patience. After enough contact, the groups begin to use similar terms to communicate with one another. One group's word for 'wool' might be used, while the other group's word for 'oats' might be used, especially if those commodities are being traded. The two languages that combine to form a pidgin are referred to as parent languages.
With enough exposure, this exchange of language forms what is known as a pidgin, or trade language. A pidgin (pronounced like 'pigeon') is a form of language with limited vocabulary, useful for trade and other practical matters. Pidgins are rarely used outside specific situations and the vocabulary is geared toward concepts like trade goods, amounts, and other relevant information. Discussing more in-depth things like philosophy or emotions are difficult or even impossible with such a limited vocabulary.
Creole Language Definition & Explanation
With enough exposure to one another, people can develop pidgin dialects into languages in their own right. This typically happens when children begin to favor the pidgin dialect over the parent language. This kind of language is called a creole. Not every pidgin will become a creole, as some relationships between groups do not require more nuanced communication. Some pidgins die out if no one needs to speak them anymore (for instance, if trade stops). By the same token, not every creole develops from a pidgin language. If there is enough contact between groups from the beginning, it is possible that a creole will form more quickly without the need for a pidgin.
The form that creoles (and often pidgins) take generally depends on the type of contact between the parent groups. Fairly egalitarian types of contact, like that between trading partners, will tend to blend the languages more evenly. Contact between two groups with an obvious differential in power, like that between masters and slaves, tends to skew the amount of each language that is spoken. For instance, field slaves will be expected to understand the master's language, while there is less reason for the master to learn the language spoken by the slaves. Since most pidgins and creoles were formed during the colonial expansion era, they often have much in common with European languages, like Dutch, English, French, and Spanish.
Example: Haïtian Creole
Haïtian Creole is one of the official languages of Haïti, a nation in the Carribean. The other official language there is French. Haïtian Creole arose from the French colonization of Haïti. During the process of colonization, many of the native inhabitants of the island died from disease. In order to work the plantations they had planned, the French imported African slaves. Composed of French and several African languages, Haïtian Creole arose from the necessity of communication between the French and their slaves.
As touched on earlier, such unequal relations between speakers of the parent languages can yield a creole having a much stronger influence from one language than another. The slaves needed to understand their masters in order to work plantations. At the same time, the French didn't feel it was important to learn the slaves's languages. So, in Haïtian Creole, most of the words are derived from French. The pronunciation of the Haïtian language varies from the French, as the African speakers had little formal training in French. The grammar of the creole tongue developed over generations of use from a rather simple version of French grammar to a more complex type of structure. Some nuances of Haïtian Creole do not exist in the French.
Haitian Creole Phrases
Here are a few examples of Haitian Creole phrases. They are different from the French mother tongue but related.
|Good evening||Bonswa||Bon soir|
|Good bye||Orevwa||Au revoir|
|How much is this?||Konbyen?||Combien?|
A creole is a language constructed from the languages of two different cultures, each of which have their own tongues. The development of a creole often takes place after the development of a pidgin, which is a simple tongue composed of words from either parent language. Pidgins are useful for specific purposes, like trade, and do not have many words unrelated to this purpose. A pidgin that survives long enough may develop into a creole. Creoles often display more words and grammar from one language than another. This is often a result of an unequal balance of power between the two groups of speakers. One example of a creole language is Haïtian Creole, which comes from French and African languages.
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