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Languages > Pidgin English (Tok Pisin)
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Neo-Melanesian Dictionary (New Guinea Pidgin-English) - Hippocrene Concise Dictionary
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Language Information

Tok Pisin (tok means "word" or "speech" as in "talk", pisin means "pidgin") is the creole spoken in northern mainland Papua New Guinea, the National Capital District, and the New Guinea Islands. Pidgin English exists in a number of varieties, but the most important is Melanesian Pidgin of eastern New Guinea and other nearby islands. It is spoken and understood, with varying degrees of proficiency, by an estimated 300-400,000 people and the number is increasing rapidly. As the indispensable lingua franca of the area, it has been given official status in the country now known as Papua New Guinea.

A pidgin language is generally based on one of the major world languages, such as English, Spanish, or Portuguese. Arising out of commercial activities, it contains a sharply reduced grammar and vocabulary, making it much easier to learn than the parent tongue.

Melanesian Pidgin, which appears in the text below, has a vocabulary of about 1,500 words. Many others are curious compounds, such as haus kuk ("house cook"), meaning "kitchen"; haus sik ("house sick"), meaning "hospital"; and hauspepa ("house paper"), meaning "office." The common word bilong (from "belong"), which simply means "of," appears in glas bilong lukluk ("glass belong look-look"), meaning "mirror"; smok bilong graun ("smoke belong ground"), meaning "dust"; lait bilong klaut ("light belong cloud"), meaning "lightning"; and man bilong longwe ples ("man belong long-way place"), meaning "foreigner." The ubiquitous suffix -pela (from "fellow") appears in the plural of personal pronouns (e.g., miI, mipclawe), in numerals up to 12 (wanpelaone, tupela—two), in one-syllable adjectives (bikpela—big, gutpcla—good), and in some other common words (dispela—this, sainpela—some).

Pidgin English (Tok Pisin) is spoken/used in the following countries:
Nikumaroro (Gardener Island), Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands.

Language Family
Family: Pidgin and Creole

Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.

Writing Sample

Writing Sample


At Muglim near Mt. Hagen there are many very angry people. The reason for this is that three men—Kei, Run, and Maga Nugints—tricked more than 1,000 people. They told the people they had to buy red wooden suitcases, which cost from $10 to $100 apiece. They then hid approximately 300 such boxes inside a house. They set a date when they would publicly open the boxes and show the people that they were now full of money. They did open five sacks and five of the boxes but only some stones and nails fell to the ground. Some of those who saw this laughed and others got very angry.

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