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David Peterson joins us to talk about pidgins and creoles and what conlangers (and linguists) can learn from them.

Top of Show Greeting: Chudihr (revised)

Links and Resources:

14 Responses to “Conlangery #101: Pidgins and Creoles”

  1. Christine Schreyer

    This was an especially interesting podcast since it correlates so nicely to my #ANTH474 course on Pidgins, Creoles and Created Languages at the University of British Columbia. I was surprised Bakker’s ideas on “mixed” languages, such as Michif, didn’t come up as well though and how that concept might apply to conlangers.

    Also, I too did not know about the APICS website so thanks for that! Will use it in my class in the fall. You can find more about the ergative creole mentioned – Gurindji Kriol – by looking up Felicity Meakins work. In fact, a clip of her appears in the special features of the Linguists documentary (I believe).

    Last, have to add that as a Tok Pisin speaker (I work in the Morobe province of PNG), I found the Tok Pisin examples fun to listen too. I can confirm that yumitupela is not as common as the other two mitupela and yutupela (although I have heard it on occasion).

    • admin

      While we were recording I actually sort of wished we’d had you back on, knowing you teach the Pidgins and Creoles class and did work in PNG.

      Mixed languages would be an interesting thing to do. I am considering doing a short about Copper Island Aleut because it seems a very different kind of language mixing than a classic creole (and somehow I completely forgot about it).

      • Christine Schreyer

        It would have been fun to chat Pidgins and Creoles too! You wouldn’t have need the Tok Pisin dictionary. 😉 Interesting though to hear David talk about McWhorter’s ideas since he knows him from classes.

        Copper Island Aleut is another good example. Mixed languages are interesting since although they are often contact languages they don’t simplify like Pidgins do.

    • Felicity

      Hi Christine – it did appear in The Linguists off cuts – a little excerpt on how ergativity works. Really interesting to hear your thoughts on ‘yumitupela’ too. North Australian Kriol is so similar in so many ways but also so different!

  2. Phillip

    I’d like to mention that I enjoy your theoretical offshoots. It’s the closest I’ve found to a full-fledged linguistic theory podcast.

    What book was that by Bybee that David mentioned?

    Also: Congratulations, George!

  3. Anthony Docimo

    Both the “all languages are creoles – end of Podcast” and the preceeding description of creoles (as opposed to pidgins) rather reminded me of the descriptions for what made modern English and Persian the simplified things they are today (reference: ‘What language is’ by John McWhorter)

    So while not creoles in the strictest sense, might they give us a glimpse at what Tok Pisin and Sarmaccan(sp) might be like in another few centuries?

    keep up the great work, everyone.

  4. Anthony Docimo

    Is anyone else hearing a 5-minute edition of this podcast, or is my computer acting up again?

  5. David Johnson

    Thanks for running this episode – very interesting. I didn’t know about APiCS before, but it’s proving to be a mine of information.

    There’s an interesting contact-based dialect grown up over here in my lifetime called MLE or Multicultural London English (a.k.a. “Jafaican”).

    As Cockney speakers from the white working class moved out of London, there place was taken in the inner city by West Indian and South Asian immigrants from the late 1950s onwards. Their version of English mixed with the speech of remaining Cockney speakers to produce MLE.

    Here’s the Wikipedia article:

    MLE has made its way into popular music and looking round the web, there seems to be quite an academic buzz around it at the moment. See here (this page has a bit of phonetic information – MLE seems to be bringing back some sounds lost in London English):


  6. Shemtov

    This was very interesting. I have been thinking for a while that when I’ve completed my Kalushian and Töräkian to a more detailed degree, I will creolize them into The Language of The Dead God.
    But that leads me to a question- Is there any example of a creole produced by 2 semi-closely related languages, and if there is, can I find good resources for it?


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