Tuesday, 9 October 2012 8:40 AM

ANU to Offer New Melanesian Pidgin Course

The Australian National University (ANU) has announced it will offer a revamped Melanesian pidgin and Creoles language course.

The one-semester course, which is part of the university's Pacific Studies degree, will cover Tok Pisin (PNG), Pijin (Solomon Islands) and Bislama (Vanuatu).

Bethwyn Evans, from ANU's College of Asia and the Pacific, told Radio Australia each of the three pidgin languages were distinct.

"Each of them has developed within their own culture and nation states. Solomon Pijin is certainly the closest to English and the easiest for an English speaker to understand," she said.

"Tok Pisin can sound a very long way from English to an English speaker despite the number of words that have come from English, and of course in Bislama you have some words that have come from French as well as from English."

Tok Pisin, Pijin and Bislama developed out of regional dialects of the languages of the local inhabitants and English, brought into the country when English speakers arrived. There were four phases in the development of Tok Pisin;

1. Casual contact between English speakers and local people developed a marginal pisin.

2. Pisin English was used between the local people. The language expanded from the users' mother tongue.

3.As the interracial contact increased the vocabulary expanded according to the dominant language.

4. In areas where English was the official language a depidginization occurred.

Tok Pisin is also known as a "mixed" language. This means that it consists of characteristics of different languages. Tok Pisin obtained most of its vocabulary from the English language.

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