Creole language

From Academic Kids

A Creole is a language descended from a pidgin that has become the native language of a group of people. The majority of creole languages are based on English, Portuguese, French, Spanish and other languages (their superstrate language), with local or immigrant languages as substrate languages.

Pidgins are rudimentary languages improvised by non-native speakers; when pidgins creolize, however, they develop fully-formed and stable grammar structures, usually as a result of the pidgin being natively learned by children (see Nicaraguan Sign Language). In some cases the group of people who speak such a language are called Creoles.


General Features of Creoles

Study of Creole languages around the world (in particular by Derek Bickerton) has suggested that they display remarkable similarities in grammar, lending support to the theory of a Universal Grammar; critics, however, argue that his examples are largely drawn from creoles derived from European languages, and that non-European-based creoles such as Nubi or Sango display fewer similarities.

Even considering only creoles from European languages, the similarities in grammatical structure are striking, especially considering that they evolved in communities which were isolated from one another. For example, these creoles tend to have similar usage patterns for definite and indefinite articles, and similar movement rules for phrase structures.

Another notable example is the verb system. The verb conjugation is typically close to an ideal Tense-Modality-Aspect pattern. In this system, the presence or absence of auxiliary verbs indicate tense (concurrent or anterior), modality (realis or irrealis) and aspect (punctual or progressive), and when present these auxiliaries occur in that order, and typically are based on similar meaning words in the pidgin or superstrate language. Thus anterior tense may be marked by words such as bin in English creoles (from been), or t in French creoles (from t), a future or subjunctive tense may be marked by go (from English go) or al (from French aller), and a non-punctual (non-stative) aspect by a word such as stei (from English stay).

Below are described some of the better-known creoles.

Arabic creoles


An Arabic-based creole spoken by descendants of Sudanese soldiers mainly in Kenya and Uganda, formed in the nineteenth century from a Sudanese Arabic-based pidgin used for intercommunication among southern Sudanese ethnic groups. See also Varieties of Arabic.

Juba Arabic

A major language of inter-ethnic communication in Equatoria (southern Sudan), creolized from the same pidgin Arabic as Ki-Nubi.

Babalia Creole Arabic

A Shuwa Arabic-based creole spoken in 23 villages of the Chari-Baguirmi Prefecture in southwestern Chad; the substrate language was Berakou.

Native American creoles

Chinook Jargon

was used as a trade language by Native Americans prior to, and shortly after, contact with Europeans. It contains elements of Cree and many neighboring Native American languages. After European contact, it also began incorporating elements of French and English. While not strictly speaking a creole, it had well-defined grammar, phonology, and vocabulary, and thus can be placed in the category of creoles.

Dutch creoles

In Guyana, the two Dutch-based creoles Berbice Dutch Creole and Skepi Dutch Creole were formerly widespread; the latter is extinct, and the former declining fast. In the US Virgin Islands, Negerhollands, now extinct, was also a Dutch-based creole. There is also a Dutch-influenced creole spoken in Netherlands Antilles, called Papiamento, but it is originally a Portuguese-based creole.

English Creoles


Singlish is a creole based on British English. It originated in Singapore, and spread to parts of Malaysia. It is a mixture of mainly Malay, Mandarin, Hokkien (a Chinese dialect), Tamil (a south Indian Dravidian language) and British English.


Bislama (older Bche-la-mar) is an English-based creole, and is the national language of Vanuatu.

Hawaiian Creole English

Hawaiian Pidgin began as a pidgin jargon used in the early European colonization of the Hawaiian Islands. English served as the superstrate language, with Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and Hawaiian elements incorporated. Children started using it as a lingua franca, and by the 20's it had creolized and become a minor language of Hawaii, as it still is today.


is spoken in Liberia, and has English and French as superstrate languages, with several Bantu languages as substrate languages.


Also known as Roper River Creole, has become the major non-English language among Aboriginal Australians with over 10,000 first language speakers.

Miskito Creole English

From contact of Miskito Indians of the coasts of Nicaragua and the Honduras with the British. Spoken in the coastal areas. Also known as NORTHERN CENTRAL AMERICA CREOLE ENGLISH (

Pitkern, Norfuk

Spoken exclusively by the inhabitants of the Pitcairn Islands and Pitcairnese migrants in Norfolk Island, an 18th century dialect of English is spoken with the Tahitian language to form the Creole language known as Pitkern, or Norfuk in Norfolk Island.

Sranan Tongo

in Suriname.

Tok Pisin

is spoken throughout Papua New Guinea. English is the superstrate language, with various Papuan languages providing grammatical and lexical input.

Torres Strait Creole

Spoken by Torres Straits Islanders.

French Creoles

Haitian Creole

is a language spoken primarily in Haiti. French is its superstrate language, with numerous African languages and some local indigenous languages providing substrate input.

Antillean Creole

is a language spoken primarily in Dominica and St. Lucia.

Kreyol Lwiziyen

Louisiana creole, spoken mainly by African American Creoles in Louisiana.

Mauritian Creole

Spoken as the lingua franca in Mauritius

Seychellois Creole

Also known as Seselwa, Seychellois Creole is an official language, along with English and French, as well as the lingua franca of the Seychelles.


Spoken in Brazil, mostly in Amap state. It has influenced by Portuguese as a substrate. It was developed by immigrants from neighboring French Guiana and French territories of Caribbean Sea.

German Creoles


or Rabaul Creol German. Unserdeutsch means "our German". It is a language spoken primarily in Papua New Guinea and the northeast of Australia and almost extinct. It was formed among the New Guinean children residing in a German-run orphanage. Only a few native speakers are still alive. ISO-Code 639-2: crp

Malay Creoles

For further information, see on Malay Creole

Ngbandi-based Creoles

Sango, the national language of the Central African Republic, is considered by many linguists to be a Ngbandi-based creole with some French influence. Other linguists do not regard it as a creole.

Portuguese Creoles

Main article: Portuguese Creole

There are several Portuguese Creoles:

Sri Lanka Portuguese Creole

Also known as Sri Lanka Portuguese (Creole). Spoken in Sri Lanka, local languages are the substrate.

Creoles of Cape Verde

Spoken in Cape Verde, at least, two creoles. Some locals refer 10 different creoles, one for each inhabited island and two for the island of Santiago. Several African substrate languages.

Creoles of India

Various creoles were largely spoken in India, the remaining are under threat: Crioulo de Diu, Crioulo de Vaipim, Lngua da Casa and Kristi.

Creoles of So Tom and Prncipe

Three different Creole languages are spoken in So Tom and Prncipe, all based in Portuguese: Forro, Lunguy and Lungua N'gol, several African languages work as substrate. Lunga N'Gol is based on Bantu languages.


Language of the island of Annobn, Equatorial Guinea, related to Forro from So Tom and Prncipe.

Upper Guinea Creole

Ancient creole and the first Portuguese creole. Also known as Crioulo it is spoken in Guinea-Bissau and Senegal the local African languages are the substrate. Divided into three dialectal groups. It is the Lingua franca of Guinea-Bissau.


Spoken in Macao, and Hong-Kong. Chinese, Malay and Indian languages as substrate. Also influenced by English, Spanish, and Japanese.


Spoken in Malacca, Malaysia. Malay is substrate.


Spoken in Aruba, Curaao, Bonaire, the Dutch West Indies. Spanish influenced.

Portuguese/English Creole


Spoken in Suriname; of all creoles, it is one of the most divergent from its source languages. It has developed tones. Linguists dispute whether it is a heavily English-influenced Portuguese creole, supported by SIL Surinam and Ian Hancock; or a somewhat Portuguese-influenced English creole; the latter view is supported by Derek Bickerton and John McWhorter. It is heavily influenced by Kongo and Gbe.

Spanish Creoles

For information on Spanish-based Creole languages see Spanish es:Lengua criolla eo:Kreola lingvo fi:Kreolikieli fr:Crole ht:Lang kreyl id:Bahasa Kreol ja:クレオール言語 nl:Creools nds:Kreoolspraak pl:Języki kreolskie pt:Crioulo ru:Креольский язык sl:Kreolščina sv:Kreolsprk


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