Creole Language in Creole Literatures
  • ISSN 0920-9034
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9870
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This article examines the role of orthography in the standardization of pidgins and creoles with particular reference to Pidgin in Hawai'i. Although linguists have generally stressed the desirability of phonemic over non-phonemic or etymological orthographies as a prerequisite for creatingAbstand‘distance’ and revalorizing pidgins and creoles as autonomous systems vis-à-vis their lexifiers, most writers in Hawai'i and elsewhere have been reluctant to use phonemic writing systems even where they exist. This is true even ofDa Jesus Book(2000), which has aimed at setting a standard for written Pidgin. Special attention is paid to the orthographic practices used in this translation of theNew Testamentcompared to those made by other writers, some of whom have explicitly disavowed standardization. These choices present a rich site for investigating competing discourses about Pidgin. Creole orthographies reflecting differing degrees and kinds of distance from those of their lexifiers are powerful expressive resources indexing multiple social meanings and identities. The orthographic practices of some Pidgin writers encode attitudinal stances that are oppositional to standard English and the ideology of standardization. Pidgin is being consciously elaborated as an anti-language, one of whose social meanings is that of Pidgin as an anti-standard. This brings to the fore varied ideological dimensions of a complex debate that has often been oversimplified by posing questions concerning orthographies for pidgins and creoles in terms of a choice between a phonemic vs. a non-phonemic orthography.


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