Melanesian pidgins


Melanesian pidgins

      English-based pidgins (pidgin) that are used widely in Melanesia (Melanesian culture); in some areas they have evolved into expanded pidgins, having become local vernaculars comparable to the creoles (creole languages) spoken in the Caribbean and around the Indian Ocean. Although some linguists once characterized this part of Oceania as having many varieties of a single Melanesian Pidgin, the present practice is to identify every island's variety as a separate language. Examples include Tok Pisin, the urban vernacular and lingua franca of Papua New Guinea, where there are several hundred native languages; Bislama, in Vanuatu; and Pijin, in the Solomon Islands.

      The vocabulary of Melanesian pidgins originally derived primarily from English; about 1,500 English words make up approximately 90 percent of the basic vocabulary that is used in most varieties. These words have in many cases widened or shifted their meanings, and compound words and other new constructions have further enlarged the vocabulary. Most of the pidgins' grammar and syntax are also based on English patterns, although they have been much simplified and modified through usage and the influence of individual Melanesian languages.

      Although there is a great deal of variety from one Melanesian pidgin to the next, their patterns of pronunciation and stress have clearly been affected by broad commonalities among the Melanesian languages. stress has been shifted to the first syllable of the word in all cases, resulting in forms such as bíkos ‘because' and másin ‘machine.' The sound system has also evolved from English in that the sounds /f/ and /p/, and /s/, /sh/, and /ch/, are not distinguished, resulting in words such as pinis ‘finish,' sap ‘sharp,' and sok ‘chalk.' The phonemes (phoneme) /θ/ and /ð/ corresponding to the spelling th are not pronounced as in English, instead becoming /t/ or /d/ or occasionally /r/: dispela ‘this fellow,' tri ‘three,' arapela ‘other fellow.' Also, when positioned between two vowels, /b/ and /d/ often become /mb/ and /nd/, respectively: /tambak/ for tabak ‘tobacco' and /sindaun/ for sidaun ‘sit, sit down, set.'

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Melanesian pidgin — /mɛləˌniʒən ˈpɪdʒən/ (say meluh.neezhuhn pijuhn) noun any of the English based Melanesian pidgins (more strictly creoles) spoken in Melanesia and Papua New Guinea, such as Tok Pisin, Bislama and Pijin; Neo Melanesian …   Australian English dictionary

  • Tok Pisin — /tawk pis in/ Neo Melanesian. * * * ▪ language        pidgin spoken in Papua New Guinea, hence its identification in some earlier works as New Guinea Pidgin. It was also once called Neo Melanesian, apparently according to the hypothesis that all… …   Universalium

  • creole languages — ▪ linguistics Introduction       vernacular languages that developed in colonial European plantation settlements in the 17th and 18th centuries as a result of contact between groups that spoke mutually unintelligible languages. Creole languages… …   Universalium

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  • Solomon Islands — Solomon Islander. 1. an archipelago in the W Pacific Ocean, E of New Guinea; important World War II battles; politically divided between Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. 2. an independent country comprising the larger, SE part of this… …   Universalium

  • Tok Pisin — Spoken in  Papua New Guinea Native speakers 122,000  (2004) 4 million L2 speakers Language family …   Wikipedia

  • pidgin — /pij euhn/, n. 1. an auxiliary language that has come into existence through the attempts by the speakers of two different languages to communicate and that is primarily a simplified form of one of the languages, with a reduced vocabulary and… …   Universalium

  • lingua franca — /frang keuh/, pl. lingua francas, linguae francae /ling gwee fran see/. 1. any language that is widely used as a means of communication among speakers of other languages. 2. (cap.) the Italian Provençal jargon (with elements of Spanish, French,… …   Universalium

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  • Pijin language — Pijin redirects here. For the lingua francas composed from two or more languages, see Pidgin. Pijin Spoken in  Solomon Islands Native speakers 24,400  (1999) u …   Wikipedia


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