Chinese Pidgin Russian

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The much-understudied Chinese Pidgin Russian (CPR) has existed at the Chinese–Russian border since at least the 18th century. Unlike many Western-based pidgins, it was formed in a territory where the lexifying language (Russian) was dominant. It also uses a typical inflecting language as its lexifier and an isolating language (Chinese) as its substrate. This paper considers the influence of both ‘parent’ languages at all CPR levels. The sources of CPR include: pidgin records and descriptions; ‘Russian’ textbooks compiled for the Chinese going to Russia; and works of literature depicting contacts between the Russians and indigenous peoples of Siberia, who often spoke a variety of CPR. Some of these sources are rarely accessible to Western linguists. The paper discusses all key aspects of CPR: history (both of the pidgin and its study), phonology (segmental inventory, stress, tone), morphology (verbs vs. non-verbs, final particles), syntax (syntactic roles, sentence and phrase word order, postpositions and prepositions, comparatives), and vocabulary (synonyms, loanwords, structural and semantic calques, ‘diminutive politeness’). The study provides new translations and etymologies for ‘difficult’ CPR words and sentences.


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