Is there a language that is proved to descend from a creole/pidgin language that existed many centuries ago? If yes, in what aspects is its creole origin visible now?

  • Did you mean languages like Afrikaans? Sep 3, 2016 at 13:16
  • If Afrikaans proven to be from a pidgin, or is that just a story they tell?
    – user6726
    Sep 3, 2016 at 14:47
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    That's one example. Another is Činuk Wawa, which is a recent creole of Chinook Jargon, the analytic pidgin formed from the uniformly polysynthetic languages of the Northwest Coast Sprachbunde during contact with Europeans. On the Grande Ronde Reservation in Oregon, there were seven tribes with only Wawa as a common language, so there have been generations of native speakers, though the language is moribund now, like most NW languages.
    – jlawler
    Sep 4, 2016 at 14:37
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    I seem to remember David Crystal, amongst others, arguing that English is a pidgin, having thrown off most inflections for easier intelligibility as trading language. Can't provide a reference, though. Oct 9, 2016 at 18:57
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    @GastonÜmlaut That definition is debatable and by no means agreed upon by the contact linguistics community, and in any case, I've never said I agree with DeLancey on this; I'm just citing his opinion... Jan 8, 2017 at 3:58

2 Answers 2


I've read a lot of John McWhorter's many books on this very topic. It is controversial, e.g. Latin, according to Stephane Goyette, simplified as it spread over the peninsula, not at the point Latin diverged into the Romance languages. So was this stage a pidgin, a creole, or a simplification or "mixed language"? Some say a pidgin stage must precede a creole stage, others say a creole can arise without that initial stage. For some reason (I know one), these issues create a great deal of heat with fist fights a possibility. Are Afrikaans and Swahili linguae francae or creoles? If so, was there ever a pidgin stage for either? And so on. Read McWhorter's Defining Creole for a good introduction to these issues. Language Interrupted is a great survey of major modern languages like Arabic, Mandarin, and Farsi which show signs of creolization early on.

  • If Swahili was a pidgin of creole under some definition, then French was as well -- in other words, not at all. The error w.r.t. Swahili arises in not understanding the history of Swahili (what languages it is actually most closely related to). A more credible case could be made that Sheng is a creole, but we kind of missed our chance to carefully document its birth.
    – user6726
    Sep 8, 2016 at 4:56
  • The Latin you describe (widespread, simplified) sounds like a koiné. Feb 6, 2017 at 21:19

Surinaams, or Sranantongo, is the language preferred by the majority of black people living in Suriname, a smaller country bordering the Atlantic Ocean on the north shores of South America. Some may consider it a creole language, but it has matured considerably and is widely accepted as the second language of the country, the official language still being Dutch. There is no common understanding between Dutch and Surinaams speakers in any case. Surinaams developed from English, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish and some West-African languages. Immigrants from Suriname in other countries keep it as their mother tongue and prefer it over English. For more information call 00 31 23 711 9000 or E-mail: [email protected]

  • Would Surinaams be the same as Papiamento? Oct 9, 2016 at 11:16
  • @LuísHenrique PApiamento is a Portugese/Spanish based Creole, spoken in the Antilles. Dec 8, 2016 at 15:35

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