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Creole language

A creole is a language descended from a pidgin that has become the native language of a group of people. Study of Creole languages around the world (in particular by Derek Bickerton[?]) has shown that they display remarkable similarities in grammar, lending support to the theory of a Universal Grammar. The majority of creole languages are based on English and other Indo-European languages (their superstrate language), with local or immigrant languages as substrate languages.

In some cases the group of people who speak such a language are called Creoles.

Some better-known creoles:

  • Chinook Jargon was used as a trade language by Native Americans prior to, and shortly after, contact with Europeans. It contains elements of Cree and many neighboring Native American languages. After European contact, it also began incorporating elements of French and English. While not strictly speaking a creole (it had no native speakers), it had well-defined grammar, phonology, and vocabulary, and thus can be placed in the category of creoles.

  • Hawai'ian Pidgin was a jargon used in the early European colonization of the Hawai'ian Islands. English served as the superstrate language, with Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and Hawai'ian elements incorporated. Although children started using it as a lingua franca and continued to do so long enough for Bickerton to observe the progress of creolization, it never became a true creole, because English became the primary language of Hawai'i after it become a U.S. state.

  • Tok Pisin is spoken in coastal areas of Papua New Guinea. English is the superstrate language, with various Papuan languages providing grammatical and lexical input.



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