pidgin


pidgin

Language with a very limited vocabulary and a simplified grammar. Pidgins usually arise to permit communication between groups with no language in common; if a pidgin becomes established as the native language of a group, it is known as a creole. Pidgins such as Chinese Pidgin English and Melanesian Pidgin English arose through contact between English-speaking traders and inhabitants of East Asia and the Pacific islands. Other pidgins appeared with the slave trade in Africa and with the importation of West African slaves to Caribbean plantations. Most of the small vocabulary of a pidgin language (Melanesian Pidgin has only 2,000 words, Chinese Pidgin English only 700) is usually drawn from a single language (Melanesian Pidgin, for example, has an English word stock of more than 90%).

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on pidgin, visit Britannica.com.

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