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Tok Pisin

Tok Pisin (tok means "word" or "speech" and is the Tok Pisin equivalent of -ese or -ish, also called Melanesian Pidgin English or Neo-Melanesian) is the creole spoken in Papua New Guinea. It is one of the official languages of Papua New Guinea and the most widely used language in that country, spoken by about 2 million people as a second language.

Tok Pisin is used to some extent in the media and for government issues, though English is still preferred in these contexts. In some schools Tok Pisin is the language of instruction in the first three years of elementary education.

Its vocabulary is about 5/6 Indo-European and 1/6 Malayo-Polynesian and indigenous New Guinea languages; its grammar is built on a simple pidgin grammar, with various irregularities.

The verb has one suffix, -im to indicate transitivity (luk, look; lukim, see). But some verbs, such as kaikai "eat", can be transitive without it. Tense is indicated by the separate words bai (future) and bin (past).

The noun does not indicate number, though pronouns do.

Adjectives usually take the suffix -pela when modifying nouns; an exception is liklik "little". Liklik can also be used as an adverb meaning "slightly", as in dispela bikpela liklik ston, "this slightly big stone".

Pronouns show person, number, and exclusion:


Reduplication is very common in Tok Pisin. Sometimes it is used as a method of derivation; sometimes words just have it. Some words are distinguished only by reduplication: sip "ship", sipsip "sheep".

There are only two proper prepositions: bilong, which means "of" or "for", and long, which means everything else. Some phrases are used as prepositions, such as long namel (bilong), "in the middle of".


Murphy, John J. (1949) Book of Pidgin English. Brisbane, Australia: W.R. Smith & Paterson.


Tok Pisin / Pidgin / English Online Dictionary
This site will hopefully serve as an aid for those of you who wish to learn a bit of Tok Pisin, a language that is spoken nationwide in PNG. Tok Pisin is a fun language, as you will soon see! Have fun!

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

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