Universal constraints and local conditions in Pidginization
Case studies from New Guinea
This paper looks at the processes involved in the genesis of three pidgins of New Guinea. I will argue that the main principle at work in the formation of the morphosyntax of pidgins is a general human capacity for language simplification, but that these processes of simplification are subject both to the effects of specific linguistic features in the local multilingual contact situation that gives rise to the pidgin and to constraints resulting from a universal linguistic endowment. By a comparative look across a range of morphosyntactic features at the processes of simplification that produced three unrelated pidgins of New Guinea, Yimas Pidgin, Hiri Motu and Tok Pisin, the article exemplifies some of the types of structures that can result in pidgins from this general human capacity for language simplification, sifted through both local conditions and universal constraints.
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