Pidgins and creoles in the history of English

Donald Winford

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of English

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199922765
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Pidgins and creoles in the history of English

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  • Linguistics
  • Historical and Diachronic Linguistics


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English colonial expansion and pursuit of trade during the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries gave rise to a wide array of colonial Englishes, among them the pidgin and creole varieties that arose in the plantation colonies of the Atlantic and Pacific. This article examines the processes of change that produced these pidgins and creoles, and what they imply for the place of these languages in the history of English, and for their genetic relationship to their lexifier language. It argues that the processes of change that led both pidgins and creoles were not that different from those which have affected most languages, including English, at one time or another. Such changes include simplification, admixture, and both internally and externally-motivated grammaticalization. Since pidgins and creoles only carry further the same tendencies that have operated in the history of English and other languages, it seems odd to deny them status as continuations of their lexifiers, while granting such status to other colonial Englishes.

Keywords: pidgins; creoles; English; colonial; expansion; dialects; British Isles; plantation colonies; creolization; pidginization; grammaticalization; contact; linguistics

Article.  4068 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Historical and Diachronic Linguistics

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