Volume 2, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0920-9034
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9870
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The development of pronouns, copulas, and other key features of Chinese Pidgin English (CPE) is traced from 1743 onwards. Major grammatical and lexical changes in the early 19th century are found to coincide with the period when foreigners were increasingly allowed to reside in Canton instead of merely being tolerated as transient visitors. The resulting continuity of interaction between Chinese and non-Chinese is seen as the catalyst for these developments in CPE.First attestations of 34 key features in CPE are compared with their earliest occurrence (if any) in more than a dozen Pacific varieties of Pidgin English (PPE). It is shown that none of the latter can possibly be a "direct descendant" of CPE. While four features exclusively shared by CPE and PPE indicate a modest degree of CPE influence on PPE, it is suggested that three key features of PPE, found only sporadically and/or tardily in CPE, provide evidence of some hitherto unsuspected influence of PPE on CPE. In the course of the above it is noted that most of the CPE features which also occur in three or more varieties of PPE have their earliest PPE attestation in New South Wales, the only Pacific territory in which there was continuity of interaction (in this case between Aborigines and whites) from the outset, and it is claimed that this social circumstance favors both the expansion and stabilization of a pidgin. Data from early Australian Pidgin English are presented showing that it includes the earliest known attestations of a number of features generally associated with PPE of the islands of the Southwest Pacific. This leads to the claim that New South Wales Pidgin English was a far more important influence on the PPE of those islands than what has often been termed "South Sea Jargon." After reviewing the linguistic implications of the labor trade which took many Pacific islanders to work on plantations in Queensland, Samoa, and elsewhere, it is claimed that the interrelationships between the many varieties of Pidgin English spoken, currently or formerly, in the vast area from China to Hawaii to the Marquesas to Australia and back to China cannot adequately be represented by means of "family tree" type diagrams.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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