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About the story
What’s with this “Wren” thing?
   The oldest extant version of the fable we are presenting here appeared in 1913 in the first volume of a two-volume anthology of Low Saxon folktales (Plattdeutsche Volksmärchen “Low German Folktales”) collected by Wilhelm Wisser (1843–1935). Read more ...

Tok Pisin

(English-based creole of Papua-New Guinea)

Beyond acting as interethnic glue, Tok
Pisin is the native language of a growing
number of Papua-New Guineans.

Language information: Simply speaking, Tok Pisin is an English-based pidgin on Melanesian substrates, and it has now developed into a creole. (A pidgin is a mixed language without native speakers used in communication among speakers of two or more languages. A creole is a former pidgin that has become a native language.)
     Tok Pisin is often referred to as “Pidgin English” as though it were its actual name. However, a more specific name is required since “Pidgin Englishes” in the world (most of which have made the transition to being creoles).
     However, describing contact language situations as “simple” would be gross over-simplification, especially in the case of Melanesia, most especially of Papua-New Guinea, a country with currently circa 820 living languages. Furthermore, Tok Pisin, one of the languages of Papua-New Guinea, seems to have had its beginnings not only in that country but also shares some of its roots with other Melanesian pidgins and creoles, as well as with Australian pidgins and the now extinct China Coast Pidgin. The same can be said of its close relative Bislama (< Bêche de mer ‘sea cucumber’) of Vanuatu (formerly known as New Hebrides). These “new” languages are witnesses of people’s ingenuity in suddenly arising cultural and linguistic contact situations.
     Like its closest relatives Bislama (of Vanuatu) and Pijin (of the Solomon Islands), Tok Pisin has developed sophisticated, regularized morphological structures using mostly English-derived words. However, it relies on fewer new English loanwords than do its two closest relatives. It is more self-reliant and inventive, preferring to create new words from words that already exist in the language. Though primarily English-based, the native lexicon contains loans from a great number of sources, including Melanesian languages, Portuguese and German.
     ALL languages and dialects are beautiful, precious gifts. So cherish yours and others! Share them with the world!Currently, Tok Pisin has approximately 50,000 native speakers (mostly in the north of the country) and approximately two million second languages speakers. It is one of the three official languages of Papua-New Guinea, the others being English and Hiri Motu (a Motu-based contact language with pidgin and creole features). While many Papua-New Guineans still consider Tok Pisin inferior to English, it is loved and preferred by others, even by many who know English well. Since Papua-New Guinea loosened its educational policies, communities may now choose basic schooling in languages other than English, and many have chosen Tok Pisin. Tok Pisin is now well-established in the media and in the language arts.

Genealogy: Indo-European > Germanic > Western > Anglo-Scots > English > Pacific > Melanesian > Papuan

Historical Lowlands language contacts: English

    Click to open the translation: [Tok Pisin]Click here for different versions. >

Author: Reinhard F. Hahn

© 2011, Lowlands-L · ISSN 189-5582 · LCSN 96-4226 · All international rights reserved.
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