Discuss some of the basic differences that characterize pidgins and creoles, based on your understanding of what is meant by the following quote: “Pidginisation is second language learning with restricted input, while creolisation was first language learning with restricted input.” (Mesthrie et al, 2009, p. 287)
Pidgins are defined as a type of spoken communication with two or more languages. It has fundamental grammar and vocabulary. It is also meant to facilitate people who do not speak a common language. Lastly, it is not spoken as a native language. An example is the “Lingua Franca” which was first created among traders. This is called business language. They are created because traders come from different places and have different tongues; therefore a common language is formed.
Creoles, on the other hand, refer to any pidgin language that becomes the first language in a speech community. A creole is “created” when the utterer of a pidgin language become gains a strong hold over utterers of another. This can be in the form of social or political hold over. Therefore, the pidgin language used in speech between these two groups may become the first language of the minority community. One such example is “Gullah (derived from English), spoken in the Sea Islands of the southeastern U.S.” – http://www.reference.com/browse/creole
Differences between Pidgins and Creoles:
1) Pidgin is a linguistic communication that comprised of components of two or more other languages and is used for communication among people. It can also be called business language. It is not a first language. Whereas, creole is a language that was at first a pidgin but has “transformed” and become a first language.
2) Structural difference: Creole languages have the “Subject Verb Object” word order whereas Pidgin can have any possible order. Also, reduplication is a common and general process in Creole languages but its very not very often found in Pidgins.
3) One important difference between Pidgins and Creoles is that pidgins do not have first language speakers while creoles do. However, this is not easy to make out because there are more and more extended pidgins beginning to acquire native speakers. Extended pidgins refer to when a pidgin becomes a creole. The cultural “side” of a pidgin usually defines this. This means that more pidgins are becoming first languages.
4) Another difference is that creoles may originate through abnormal transmissions but as children acquire them, they must, therefore, comply with the ‘blueprint’ of language that can also be referred to as how the language is going to constructed and formed. Blueprint here is comparable to how we relate to a blueprint of a house. However, for pidgins, as they are a result of a second language, although they have to be learnable by adults, they do not have to be acceptable by children. This means that pidgins do not have to comply with the ‘blueprint’ of language. Pidgins before they become accomplished languages in a community, are always second languages and usually after teenage.
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Explanation of quote:
According to the definition, what Mesthrie et al meant when he said “Pidginisation is second language learning with restricted input” is that pidgins is not used as a first language. Following the definition laid out above, it is a language that is borne out of the contact between two different languages. As such, it has restricted contact as the contact between the speaker and the second language is not frequent. Also, it has been noted that pidgins are nothing close to the foreign language as it has only rudimentary grammar and vocabulary. As mentioned above, research has shown that all creole languages have the “Subject Verb Object” language rules whereas any possible order is allowed for pidgins. This means that while creole languages need to follow a given set of rules for word order, pidgins do not have to. Instead they can be formed in any way. For example, the pidgin “Ojibwe” has a free word order. This shows that pidgins is second language learning because learners do not follow a given set of language rules as the grammar is still not fixed and internalized. This goes to show as what Mesthrie has said; pidgins are essentially second language learning with restricted input from the native speakers of the second language themselves.
The second part of the quote claims that creolization is first language learning with restricted input. As mentioned in the definition, through creolization, a pidgin becomes a language on its own. This language is then similar to non-creole languages in terms of grammatical and language rules. This claim stems from the crucial difference between creoles and pidgins – the presence of native speakers and also a need to follow the “blueprint” of the foreign language. In creoles, the presence of native speakers now means that there are more interactions between both languages. Also, reduplication is a usual process in Creole languages but its rarely seen in pidgins. The repetition of a root to show “intensity, plurality, duration and frequency” shows that the second language learner has become more familiar with the foreign language. This implies that the learners are now almost on the same level as the native speakers in terms of familiarity with the first language and its grammar. This shows us that creoles are in effect first language learning. The need to now follow a blueprint of the foreign language and the added presence of native speakers means that creolization is in effect, a first language learning. To be a native speaker, one must be able to follow that language’s linguistic rules. In creoles, we see that it is a requirement to follow the foreign language’s rules. Thus, this tells us that the learning of creoles now assimilates to the foreign language as compared to pidgins.
The later part of the second quote requires us to explain why there is still “restricted input”. The previous second language speakers who are now native speakers of the foreign language means that the people who still speak the foreign language as a second language now have immediate role models they can learn from. However, as these native speakers are still few in numbers, creoles are therefore said to be first language learning with restricted input.
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