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A pidgin (language) is a language with a simplified structure that has no or few native speakers and is primarily used by speakers of other languages for interethnic communication, often in specialized circumstances such as trade or labor migration.

  • "For a language to be a true pidgin, two conditions must be met: its grammatical structure and its vocabulary must be sharply reduced [...], and also the resultant language must be native to none of those who use it." (Hall 1966:xii)
  • "Pidgins [...] are simplified, lexically and structurally reduced, unstable nonnative systems, with variable and inconsisstent pattterns, created and used for limited communication among adults who are native speakers of mutually unintelligible languages." (DeGraff 1999:6)



The term pidgin was generalized from the language Pidgin English (nowadays usually called Chinese Pidgin English), a pidgin that was widely used in Canton and in the Pacific in the 18th and 19th century.

See also


Wikipedia article


  • Hall, Robert A. 1966. Pidgin and creole languages. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  • DeGraff, Michel. 1999. Creolization, language change and language acquisition: a prolegomenon. In: DeGraff, Michel (ed.) Language creation and language change. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1-46.

Other languages

German Pidgin (de)