Pidgins and Creoles

Pidgin and Creole are two common terms used in linguistics to describe a language. This post will define and explain some of the characteristics of these two linguistic terms


A pidgin is a language that does not have any native speakers. In other words, it is a younger language that is developed as a means of communicating between two groups who do not speak the same language.

Pidgins are frequently developed for business and trading. Buying and selling and other transactions are reasons for the development of a pidgin. Pidgins are not used as a form of group identification but rather for practical communication.

A pidgin is also the combination of two different languages. The language that provides the majority of the vocabulary is called the superstrate and the minority language is called the substrate.

Pidgins are highly simplified in their grammar and syntax. For example, pidgins are often missing affixes, inflections, and a smaller vocabulary compared to other languages.

A pidgin usually sounds ridiculous to a speaker of either of the two languages it is derived from. As such, they are often difficult to learn for a speaker of either the superstrate or substrate language to learn as they do not follow the normal rules of grammar as found in the superstrate or substrate language.

There are many pidgins in the world today. Many came as a result of slavery in the western hemisphere. Slaves came from different parts of Africa and often could not communicate without developing a pidgin.

In Asia, most countries have or had some form of pidgin English such as Thailand “Tinglish”, Japan has “Japanese Bamboo English.” Over time, many pidgins mature into what we call creoles.


A creole is a pidgin that now has native speakers. Children grow speaking a creole as their first language. There are also other differences between a pidgin and creole.

Since it is the first language of a group, creoles are used in many more areas of life and have a much richer structure. Furthermore, a creole has a much more standardized grammar rules.

People’s attitudes towards a creole are often different as well. Since it is the first language of many people, there is a sense of pride over using the language. A creole can also be used to identify members of a group. This was not possible with a pidgin as pidgins serve as a way of communicating between two groups while creoles are for communicating both between groups and within a group.

Examples of creoles include “Manglish” (Malaysian English), “Singlish” (Singaporean English) and “Taglish” (Tagalog English).


Pidgins and creoles serve the purpose of communicating among people groups who have different languages. With time a pidgin may become a creole if native speakers of a pidgin develop.

4 thoughts on “Pidgins and Creoles

  1. Pingback: Pidgins and Creoles | Language Learner & Lover

  2. Pingback: Pidgins and Creoles – Bridging the Gap: ESL Resources for Teachers

  3. Bertha Zamudio

    The “papiamento” now is a creole spoken in the islan of Curacao derived from the pidgin nigro-portuguese used by slaves mixed up with the spanish used in the Atilles and Venezuela


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