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This paper explores Pidgin language as a form of communication and its difference from Creole. In the essay, the focus is made on the differences between Pidgin and Creole on the example of Nigerian and Hawaiian Pidgin. We consider Pidgin a primary level of language development. Creole, on the other hand, is more complex notion than Pidgin, but it is not as independent as any settled language. On the example of works by Collins and Kathy, Faraclas and Nicholas, Igboanusi, Marlow, Peter, and Wolf, Siegel, and Sakoda I will prove the aforementioned statement. This paper deals with problems of differentiating Pidgin as a separate language and its existence as a part of national culture. Nigerian Pidgin and Hawaiian Pidgin have their own peculiarities and significance in the language system of a given region and I investigate why it has happened.

Keywords: Pidgin, Creole, Nigerian Pidgin, Hawaiian Pidgin

Pidgins and Creoles - Comparison Between Hawaiian Pidgin and Nigerian Pidgin

When nation or a distinct group of people does not have their own language, they communicate with the help of an artificial language – Pidgin. It is a simplified language, which operates as a tool of communication of two and more people, who have no common language. It is mostly used in trading and in such places, where people speak different languages in the country where they live. Pidgin being a simplified form of a language is modified without any particular rules or system. On the other hand, it can transform into a Creole language, a natural language that is created due to mixing of two or more parent languages of particular individuals. Being the native language of children, Creole differs from Pidgin, but they both have many common features such as a mixed system of the language. There are many Creole languages and Pidgin variations. In this paper, on the example of Hawaiian Pidgin and Nigerian Pidgin, I will identify the role of such languages in both areas of living,  their common features, differences importance and status of each of them. In addition, I will put forward my assumptions concerning the reasons for Nigerian Pidgin’s popularity and wide usage in the area.

Introduction History of Hawaiian Pidgin and Nigerian Pidgin

How did Pidgin come into these countries

Hawaii Pidgin as a Creole language is modified from English and used by inhabitants of Hawaii islands. Being the next language after the official English, this Pidgin is widely popular among the residents of this area. It has developed as a result of communication between English speaking residents and non-English speaking immigrants in Hawaii (Collins, 2012). Farmers on the plantations used Portuguese, Hawaiian and Cantonese languages. There were also immigrants from Eastern countries, such as Japan, Korea and Philippines. After some time, these languages mixed with English and created Hawaiian Pidgin. This language also has some features from Spanish dialect that came to Hawaii from Mexico and Puerto Rico.

As every language, Hawaiian Pidgin always changes and acquires new characteristics. It has changed a lot from 19th century, when, on its first starts, it was a tool of communication of ethnic groups on the plantation and outside of it. After some time, children started to use it and form Pidgin it developed into a Creole language in Hawaii. Pidgin continuum of speech is quite distinct from English in this area. Slangs and pronunciation vary due to its use in the social group. Hawaiian Pidgin is used in serious literature, local commerce and personal letters. It is a local language that operates only as a part of local culture.

Speaking about Nigerian Pidgin, we can say that it acts as lingua franca in Nigeria. It, as well as Hawaiian Pidgin, is based on English Language. Together with the other Pidgin and Creole languages, it was found in the Caribbean islands as a modification of English language. Pidgin is used by non-native speaking Nigerians. According to Faraclas and Nicholas, Nigerian Pidgin can be spoken as a Pidgin, a Creole, or a decreolised acrolect by different speakers, who may switch between these forms depending on the social setting (Faraclas, Nicholas, 1996). Nowadays, this language is used by more than a half of Nigeria’s inhabitants. About seventy five million people in this region use Pidgin as a second language. This language system in Nigeria has no official status, but it is very common and popular in the society. Igboanusi states, that Nigerian Pidgin has the highest population of users in Nigeria, but it does not have any official recognition. Moreover, it is completely excluded from the education system (Igboanusi, 2008).  Most of Nigerian ethnic groups use this Pidgin as a conversation tool with additional words and changing endings. Igboanusi (2008), in his article, emphasizes attention on the fact that accepting Nigerian Pidgin as an official one is highly important for the society and education. Implementation of Nigerian Pidgin in schools and through various media can strengthen the language and transfer Pidgin into Creole. Nevertheless, it is regarded as a bad language which is a merely transformation of English.

Nigerian Pidgin has its own variations as well as other African Pidgins. For example, there are such dialects as: Warri, Sapele, Benin, Port-Harcourt, Lagos especially in Ajegunle, Onitsha. Nigerian Pidgin is mostly used in Niger-Delta where oil factories are situated (Herbert Igboanusi, 2008). Speaking about African lexicons as a whole, we can say that national varieties of West African Standard English are seen and researched not only through phonetics but also through lexicon (Wolf, 2007).

Differences and similarities between Nigerian and Hawaii Pidgin

To answer the question about similarities and differences between these two systems, firstly we should understand the difference between Pidgin and Creole. Pidgin language is a system of communication of social groups or groups of people joined by interests. Pidgin starts its development from marginal contact or mixing of different languages on the small territory. When it becomes widely used in the society, Pidgin is referred to as a second language of immigrants or the way of communication between two races. Than Pidgin goes into another stage and becomes Creole. When speakers cannot correspond and use one language, they have no other way to express themselves as to create a new system of communication. Creole can develop from Pidgin but it can be formed separately when it acquires the meaning of higher language and privilege in a society. While Pidgin is nobody’s native language, Creole is a language that firstly was a Pidgin and then became nativized. When community or group of people believes that Pidgin is their native language, it turns into Creole. Distinct grammar of Pidgin is only seen when Pidgin is on the stage of becoming a Creole language. While children learn Pidgin, they adopt it and create a system with rules that becomes Creole after some time. Pidgin languages are wide spread in Atlantic group, such as Caribbean islands and in West Africa. In addition, there is a Pacific group of Pidgin languages situated near Papua in New Guinea. Pidgin based on English language can differ a lot and have very distinct features from the standard language.

Those two language systems act in different continents and have some distinct features. Both Nigerian and Hawaiian pidgin where formed from English language and other dialects and language systems. They were developed it with the help of immigrants that came from different parts of the world without any particular notion of language and created a new system of communication. Creole and Pidgin, being young languages, are in process of development and in future they can grow and transform into a bigger language system. Nigerian and Hawaiian Pidgins, as well as other Pidgin and Creole, show typical characteristics of a language in the global sense. These characteristics include old forms of the language and its system, such as complex morphology and phonology.

According to Marlow (2008), inhabitants of Hawaii prefer Standard English over Hawaiian pidgin in formal communication because of the local influence of their communities. Nigerian Pidgin is also thought of as a rudimental slang developed from English language. That is why it could be noticed that Pidgin languages in those two countries, being widely used and popular among the inhabitants, are not very likely to be developed into strong independent systems.

To tell about the differences, we can state, that the most important difference between Hawaiian and Nigerian Pidgin is the fact that Hawaiian Pidgin is considered as a Creole language and an independent system, Nigerian Pidgin is not regarded as a Creole, but only as a dialect, which is expelled from school education and media. In An Introduction to Sociolinguistics, Wardhaugh differentiated Pidgin and Creole from the sociolinguistic point of view (2010).  He regards pidgin and creole as two different stages of language development, which are always on the stage of vocabulary growth. Creole as a next stage of a Pidgin language is learned by younger generations and used not only as lingua franca of the part of trading process but in everyday life as well. Hawaiian Pidgin, citing words of Siegel and Sakoda, is a distinct language and it does not act as a broken language (2003). Hawaiian Pidgin has its own literature and its stated writing system, phrases and sentences. On the other hand, Nigerian Pidgin, having its own literature and wide usage, is considered only as a dialect and it is not studied by youth.

Nigerian Pidgin language system gained its popularity due to the low national rate of literacy, while Hawaiian Creole language was created due to the big amount of plantations and workers from different countries. Nigerian Pidgin has more population of speakers (namely 30,000,000)  than in Hawaii (only 600.000). Its wide usage could be explained in a simple way. Nigerian population has had a strong cooperation with Europeans in 19th and 20th centuries. English language and the lack of literacy of different Africans caused a reason to implement a new form of education. At the same time, Hawaiian dialect was formed due to the low proficiency in Standard English and near Standard English of immigrants from Europe, Mexico and Eastern countries.

Nigerian Pidgin is mostly used as a trade language. It gained the biggest popularity in such areas as – fishery, agriculture, animal husbandry, tourism, military, construction and maintenance and is used by both white-collar and blue-collar workers. As we see, Nigerian Pidgin is widely used in everyday life and in all spheres and levels. Moreover, its importance grows every day due to the interaction between people of different continents and aborigines who got used to this form of communication. While Nigerians do not know Standard English very well, Hawaiians use their Creole as a second language.

Nigerian Pidgin has a limited repertoire of consonants and diphthongs on the contrast to other English variations. In addition, this language produces homophones. For example, words like ‘thin’, ‘thing’ and ‘tin’ have a similar pronunciation /tin/. In Hawaiian Pidgin, the main difference is a distinct pronunciation. For example at the end of the words, Hawaiians pronounce /ol/ instead of /l/ (mental-mentol). In addition, Pidgin being non-rhonic omits /r/ after a vowel (car-cah). This feature is similar to Australian English and other English variants. In addition, it has distinct grammar that is not similar to Standard English and other forms of Pidgin. For example, the form “to be” is omitted when the speaker says about the inherent qualities of a person or an object.

Hawaiian Pidgin is more used in literature and performing arts than Nigerian Pidgin. There are such Hawaiian writers as Lois-Ann Yamanaka and Lee Tonouchi who use Pidgin in their writtings. They create written poems and short stories that are popular among the inhabitants of Hawaii. Moreover, Hawaiian Pidgin is used in theatre unlike Nigerian. There are plays and performances on Pidgin that present this dialect as a part of the culture but not a marginal slang. Nigerian poetry is also quite popular but not to a such an extent.

Nigerian Pidgin has more dialects that Hawaiian. For example, it includes Lagos Pidgin, Delta Pidgin, Cross River Pidgin, Benin Pidgin, when Hawaiian Pidgin transforms only according to English and Pidgin mixture.

To sum up, we can say that Pidgin and Creole have many common features. They are the part of one language formation process. While Pidgin is the first step of a language creation, Creole, having its own system and wide usage, is a modernized version of Pidgin and can be regarded as a second step of a language creation. Pidgin can be used in a small group of people or on the ethnic level. Pidgin is created through the marginal contact and nativization subsequently. With the development of Pidgin as a mother tongue, the next stage begins. Creole can develop in the bigger official system due to movement towards the standard language. Nigerian Pidgin is an example of Pidgin, which remains on the first stage and is not developed into a Creole due to the social pressure. On the other hand, Hawaiian Pidgin is regarded as a Creole language in this region. In both places, those language systems are regarded as rudimental and non-official, but they stay widely used and popular due to their simplicity and big audience. Hawaiian and Nigerian Pidgins are both developed from English language with the help of additional words from other countries and even continents. Differentiating them, we can state their difference in development and while Nigerian Pidgin is used as lingua franca, Hawaiian Pidgin works as an independent communicational system between residents of a particular area.

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