Pidgins and creoles in Eurasia: the consolation of philology

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    A small set of Western European languages (English, Dutch, French, Spanish and Portuguese) has provided the core lexica of most modern creole languages throughout the world and of many pidgins too, and the theoretical and historical study of pidgins and creoles (hereafter p/cs) began in Europe in the mid-19th century and continues to be pursued there. Nonetheless, records of pidgins from Europe and Asia of whatever lexical source are relatively few, and hardly any of the languages can be described as well-documented. Indeed the major lexifiers of pidgins from this region – Basque, Icelandic, Arabic, Italian, Norwegian and Russian – played small or no roles in the kinds of exploitation of the peoples and resources of the tropics which gave rise to these better-known and more widespread p/cs. Despite older disputes about the evolution of some European languages, such as Saami and the Germanic group, there are no confirmed creole languages which are native to Europe of northern Asia, In addition, the few better-recorded pidgins in this area (for no true creoles have been attested), such as Lingua Franca and Chinese Pidgin Russian, show a good deal of internal and regional variation reflecting the often vast areas over which they were used.
    This chapter discusses the general history of p/cs in the area, looking at a number of languages such as, Basque-Icelandic Pidgin, Lingua Franca, Chinese Pidgin Russian and Russenorsk. Among the resources upon which this study draws are materials on various languages which have only been unearthed or investigated from a creolistic and philological viewpoint in the last few years, despite the fact that they were sometimes recorded centuries ago. Even though most of these languages are no longer in use, the materials available to us on them still have much to contribute to a nuanced understanding of foreigner talk and processes of pidginisation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationRoutledge handbook of pidgins and creoles
    EditorsMiriam Meyerhoff
    Publication statusAccepted/In press - 26 May 2019


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