National Collegiate Honors Council


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UReCA: The NCHC Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity:


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Linguistics, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is “the science of studying language, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and historical linguistics” ( Within this field, the study of pidgin and creole languages is the source of much controversy and disagreement. Due to their divergence from typical linguistic features and development patterns, pidgins and creoles have long been ignored by the linguistics community. Considered by many to be “inferior, haphazard, broken” versions of “older, more established languages,” these so-called “bastard tongues” were written off as unworthy of study (Todd 1). Only recently have these forms of language garnered interest from linguistic scholars known as Creolists. However, compared to their more respected and recognized counterparts, the study of pidgins and creoles remains incomplete. Modern Creolists are able to agree neither on the accepted definitions for the terms pidgin and creole nor on the status of a number of languages claiming to be either of the aforementioned terms (Muysken and Smith 3). While usually studied together, the terms pidgin and creole are used to distinguish between two very different and unique forms of speech and language (“The Origins of Pidgin” 1).