Tok Pisin

Melanesia is one of the most linguistically diverse areas of the world, with over 900 separate languages spoken. Melanesians first had regular contact with Europeans (including Australians and Americans) in the early 1800s, when whaling began in the area, followed by trading in sandalwood and bêche-de-mer (the sea slug, which is supposedly an aphrodisiac). In other areas of the Pacific, Europeans learned the local language to carry on trading, but they couldn’t do so in Melanesia because of the large number of languages. So they tried to use simplified English and a lot of mime. As a result, many Melanesians picked up a bit of English — but because of their limited exposure,they learned mainly vocabulary and not grammatical rules. Their versions of English were highly influenced by their own first languages and simpler in comparison: a small vocabulary, few grammatical rules and inflections, and regularity in what rules there were. Language Varieties. Read more…

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