chapter  TWELVE
9 Pages

Pidgin English

WithLewis Herman, Marguerite Shalett Herman

Strictly speaking, Pidgin English— Chinese Pidgin—is more a jargon than it is a dialect. But it is included here because it is one of the most widely spoken jargons in the world. The name pidgin is supposed to have been derived from the Chinese pronunciation of "business," and it described the language used to transact their business affairs with the English-speaking people. The basic idea of Pidgin is this: English words are treated as though they were Chinese characters and are strung together as the Chinese language is strung together, not in standardized grammatical forms but, rather, with root ideas simply stated in logical sequence. Pidgin could be termed a sort of shorthand language. However, the shorthand sometimes goes into reverse and produces "bel-bel belong me plenty walk-about" which means, simply, "I'm hungry," as used by the Australian bushmen. But a great deal of language can be covered with relatively few words of Pidgin.