I have only experienced Pidgin vicariously — through books, web sites, and a brief excerpt spoken on a television program — but I love it as a language. Pidgins are languages which combine English vocabulary with local native grammar and additional words.
I am not with those who feel pidgin is inferior, a kind of dumbed-down version of English. For one thing, the people — white people as well as Pacific islanders — who speak it are not idiots. For another, it possesses a complicated grammar of its own, distinct from English. There are, in fact, many different kinds of pidgin, some resembling English more and others less.
In his book Words, lexicography hobbyist Paul Dickson notes that pidgin
came into being some 300 years ago along the China coast as an intensely loose, linguistic shorthand with a severely limited vocabulary. The words were English and the syntax Chinese, which provided enough common ground for Western sailors and Chinese merchants to talk with one another. It was called a business language, but it was hard for Chinese to pronounce business, which came out as something that sounded like bijin. It eventually became known as pidgin.
Dickson collected a few pages — transliterated into readable English — of pidgin expressions. Among my favorites:
To test your new found skills in reading this crossroads language, see if you can guess what famous poem this is:
Big Name watchem sheepysheep:
watchum black fella.
No more belly cry fella hab.
Big Name makum camp alonga grass,
taken black fella walk-about longa,
no fightem no more hurry watta
Big Boss longa sky makum inside glad
takem walk-about longa too much good fella.
If you think you are hooked, try these links: