Quick Summary:

When people from different places with different languages meet up, they need to find some way to communicate with each other. But how can you do that if the other person doesn't speak what you do? Well, you could just come up with a simple system, combining both your languages, that'd help you communicate. That's exactly what people have been doing for centuries, at least, creating systems called pidgins. Pidgins are fascinating systems, but what's most interesting about them is that no matter what languages feed into them, they tend to have similar characteristics for their sound and syntax. Pidgins will usually keep the system to the simplest part of human language, because that's what makes it easiest for people to hear. But that means they usually don't have all the hallmarks of a natural language.

As cool as pidgins are, what's even more interesting is what happens when kids start learning one as their first language. As they're exposed to the pidgin, they regularize and complicate it, and transform it into a Universal Grammar-compliant natural language. This process is known as creolization, and the language created is a creole. Many languages have originated as creoles, and we talk about a couple of recent ones in the video, Tok Pisin and Nicaraguan Sign Language, to show how things change when moving from a not-quite language like a pidgin to a real natural creole.

 

Discussion:

So how about it? What do you all think? Let us know below, and we’ll be happy to talk with you about how pidgins get made and what changes when they become creoles. There’s a lot of interesting stuff to say, and we want to hear what interests you!

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