Portuguese pidgin and Chinese Pidgin English in the Canton trade

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While the role of Chinese Pidgin English (CPE) in the Canton trade is relatively well-understood, the role of pidgin Portuguese has remained less clear. We review the evidence for the use of pidgin Portuguese and for its influence on the development of CPE. There is evidence of gradual replacement of certain Portuguese lexical items by English ones. In addition, we propose that two puzzling grammatical properties of CPE may be explained in terms of pidgin Portuguese influence: the use of have as locative copula, and the use of for as complementizer. Taken together, the lexical replacement and grammatical influence provide evidence for the role of pidgin Portuguese in the development of CPE.


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