Volume 4, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0920-9034
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9870
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Melanesian Pidgin is a cover term for closely related varieties of the English-lexifier Pacific Pidgin that is spoken in Vanuatu (where it is known as Bislama), Papua New Guinea (where it is known as Tok Pisin), and Solomon Islands (where it is known as Pijin). Structurally and lexically, Bislama is closer to Solomon Islands Pijin than either is to Tok Pisin. The precise nature of many of the structural differences between these three varieties of Melanesian Pidgin has not been widely described, partly because Bislama, and particularly Solomon Islands Pijin, are relatively little described in the literature. This paper aims to describe one grammatical feature which differentiates these three varieties. The grammatical feature that is the subject of this paper is the form se. It carries a particularly high functional load in Bislama. The same form is also present in Solomons Pijin, though in this variety of Melanesian Pidgin, it has a sharply reduced functional load as compared with Bislama. On the other hand, in most current varieties of Tok Pisin, it is almost completely absent. In those varieties of Tok Pisin in which it is present, its status as a genuinely independent grammatical or lexical item is questionable. This paper will also go somewhat beyond a straightforward structural description of se in Melanesian Pidgin, as it will also reconstruct its history in the three varieties of the language. The paper will concentrate on Bislama, as it is in this variety of the language that the form se is most widely used.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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