Glossary of Pidgin and Creole Terms P-R


by María Rosa Fernández Bell and Glenn Gilbert
Editing by Alicia Spiegel and Jeffery Parsell


panlectal grid – It has to do with the implicational scaling technique. "The panlectal grid consists of the totality of possible sets of rules for an arbitrarily limited area in space and/or time." (R: 163) The isolects on the implicational scale differ one from the other with respect to features or rules in the panlectal grid.

paradigmatic univocity – A principle which refers to "cases in which a stable relationship exists between form and meaning. For example, in standard Swahili, prefixes and infixes are used to express the subject and object of the verb . . . The language gets significantly reduced in form and function the further away one travels from the East African coast since it is used by many second language speakers as a trade langugage." (R: 25-26) In this process, which Siegel has called "koineization" (see koiné;), the paradigmatic univocity is gradually lost (standard Swahili ni-ta-m-piga 'I future him hit' – 'I will hit him' becomes in the varieties mimi tapiga yeye).

paralanguage – "Features of speech or body language considered to be marginal to language" (C: 427), such as gestures. Bickerton gives this name to the conceptual component linked to the pragmatic mode.

parameters – Basic, binary elements of the universal grammar of Bickerton's LBH which are set in all languages, and will later be 'fixed' in acquisition, in accordance with language specific input. These parameters include the following semantactic distinctions: specific/nonspecific; stative/nonstative; punctual/nonpunctual; and causative/noncausative.

patois – The language of British Blacks born to parents from the West Indians. They use it as a symbol of Black identity. (See assertion of identity).

pidgin – "A simplified version of some language, often augmented by features from other languages. A pidgin typically arises in colonial situations and is used solely as a trade language." (A: 527) Unlike creoles, pidgins do not have native speakers. (See pidginization, expanded pidgin).

PC – In creolistics, abbreviation for pidgin and/or creole (not personal computer or politically correct).

pidginization – "The development into a pidgin." (C: 428) As a complex process of sociolinguistic change, it involves reduction of linguistic resources and restriction of use (Hymes). As a process of acquisition under restricted conditions, it involves the learning of a second language by speakers of different language of the dominant group (Bickerton). (R: 2) (Compare to creolization.)

pidginization hypothesis of second language learning – "Pidginization may be a universal first stage in second language acquisition, which results initially from cognitive constraints and then persists due to social and psychological ones," argues Schumann. This would explain why some second language learners end up using a simplified and restricted variety of the L2: "Schumann claims that Alberto's speech is pidginization as a result of his social and psychological distance from English speakers." (R: 219)

pleonastic – Redundant. "The unnecessary use of words" (in this present day and age) is called pleonasm. (C: 428) This is common in grammatical languages such as pidgins.

polylectal grammar – It has to do with the implicational scaling technique. Each one of the creolistics on the implicational scale is the output of a grammar, and each grammar is part of a polylectal grammar.

postcreole continuum – see creole continuum.

postposition – "A particle that follows the noun it governs (Jap. X kara Y made 'from X to Y'). Antonym: preposition." (C: 428) Postpositions are common in language with SOV order, like Dravidian. Sri Lanka Portuguese Creole developed case suffixes from postpositions, after the Portuguese influence was removed in 1658. This typological shift involved "a movement away from the Portuguese type which is SVO and prepositional to a Dravidian type which is SOV and postpositional with case marking." (R: 40)

pragmatic mode – According to Bickerton, it is linked to the conceptual component. He calls both of them paralanguage, which is the first part of language that emerged in evolution.

predicate marker – A morpheme that indicates the object, or post-verbal part, of a sentence. "The development of predicate markers can take place in the stabilization phase of a pidgin rather than as part of creolization (i in Tok Pidin: yupela i kam 'You (pl) come')." (R: 39)

primary language – "The language which is best mastered by a speaker. This is not necessarily the first acquired language (or mother-tongue). All other languages of a bilingual person are secondary languages. (R: 46) (See dominant language.)

principle of conservation of logical structure – According to Keenan, "a construction which presents more of its logical structure (i.e., is logically more perspicacious) will have a wider distribution than one which does not, and there will be fewer restrictions on its syntactic functions." This has to do with the expressivity of a language: "To the extent that a language cannot, then the former may be said to be logically more expressive than the latter in that respect." (R: 253) For example, languages which have certain types of relativization strategies that others do not have, which would explain why pidgins only acquire the expressive function when they are creolized. (See referential vs. non-referential power of a language.)

pro-drop language – A language which allows sentences without subject pronouns. Antonym: non-pro-drop languages, like English, which require subjects to be realized lexically. In general, pidgins and creoles are pro-drop languages.

projection – It has to do with social identity. "Le Page views each speech act as a projection of the speaker's identity. Speakers bring into play the variable linguistic resources available to them in a community as a means of identifying with certain groups, subject to certain constraints." (R: 202) (See act of identity, focusing vs. diffusion.)

punctual vs. non-punctual – A parameter of Bickerton's LBH, this distinction has to do with the aspect of the verb in the creole TMA systems. Punctual expresses "single nondurative actions or events", while non-punctual suggests "durative activity" (B: 28), "progressive plus habitual meaning." (B: 27)

real vs. apparent time – A distinction used by Labov: real time (longitudinal) studies of language variation by age are much better at detecting the effects of age grading, than are apparent time (cross sectional) studies. The latter have the advantage of allowing immediate access and analysis of age related speech variation.

realis vs. irrealis – Subsystems of the basilectal verbal system, they have to do with modality. "The realis refers to states and actions which have occurred or are in the process of taking place, whereas the irrealis includes all states and actions which have not actually occurred, whether these are expressed by future or conditional tenses or by modals." (R: 173-174) (See TMA systems.)

recessive vs. dominant language – In a bilingual situation, this distinction is similar to secondary vs. primary language, or to substrate vs. superstrate.

recreolization – A process which occurs "whereby a creole becomes further removed from its superstrate". (R: 57) "A refocusing of norms in the direction of the basilectal speech." (R: 192) Antonym: decreolization.

reduction – A distinguishing feature of pidgins and creoles. "The language makes use of a smaller set of structural relations and items in the syntax, phonology and lexicon than some related variety of the same language." (R: 44)

redundancy – The use of "a feature that is unnecessary for the identification or maintenance of a linguistic contrast." (C: 429) "Pidgins offer only one means of packaging redundancy: massive and wholesale repetition of the entire message. Repetition is stylistic rather than obligatory and (grammatical)." (R: 29)

referential vs. non-referential power of a language – The referential or communicative function of a language is used to transmit information, i.e., to merely communicate. The non-referential or expressive function, on the other hand, is used to express moods or jokes, for example. Pidgins are said to be restricted-use languages, because their speakers use them at the referential level. They only acquire the expressive function when they are creolized. (See principle of conservation of logical structure.)

relativization – "A process of embedding in which a relative clause is embedded in a matrix clause and there is a relation of coreference between an NP in a matrix clause and an NP in the relative clause." (R: 238) "Pidgins lack rules for embedding and subordination of clauses. They tend to use no formal marking to indicate that one part of an utterance is subordinate to another. Distinctive marking of relative clauses comes later in the stabilization or expansion phase of the pidgin life cycle, or arises in the process of creolization." (R: 241) Pidgins use some alternative strategies to relativize clauses, such as the resumptive pronoun.

relexification – "It consists of the substitution of vocabulary items for others with the maintenance of a stable syntactic base . . . it can create similarities between apparently unrelated languages." (R: 86) In creolistics, relexification happens when a pidgin or a creole changes its lexifier language.

repair – A type of "restoration" or "repairement" needed during the process of creolization. "Depending on the developmental stage at which creolization occurs, different types of repair are necessary before the language can become an adequate first language for a speech community." (R: 154) It may be needed at all levels – phonological, syntactic, semantic, stylistic, and pragmatic – or only at some levels.

repertoire extension – This has to do with speakers' control of the varieties ranging over the continuum. Repertoire extension adds another dimension to decreolization because it is more than simple replacement. "The repertoires of the younger people are broader and include more of the standard than do the repertoires of the older people . . . the younger generation's greater allegiance to creole does not imply that their ability to speak English is lesser. On the contrary, the lowest age group has the widest repertoire and the best control of all the varieties." (R: 185)

repidginization – A process of change in which first language creoles become either partially or totally "repidginized," i.e., they are used as pidgins because new people of different language backgrounds keep coming (to the plantations, for example) and modifying the creole with their own language.

restricted pidgin – A pidgin that exists for quite a long time without expanding or creolizing because its use is restricted to a particular place and time (Russenorsk, for example).

restructuring vs. development – The term development or expansion refers to "an increase in overall referential and non-referential power of a language. Restructuring, on the other hand, is a process of change due to language contact which does not affect the overall power of a linguistic system." (R: 155)

resumptive pronoun – Also called shadow or copy pronoun, it is used by pidgins as a strategy to relativize clauses. It is a coreferential NP (it may be a full NP or a pronoun) that mostly occurs in the subject position of the matrix clause immediately following a relative clause in subject position (Things [what you sit on] they go). However, there are differences in the positions in which resumptive pronouns occur across languages. (R: 238-239)

retrospective vs. prospective language – This has to do with marking of time relations. "A language is retrospective if the present tense may mark past or if the past may be unmarked, while a language is prospective if the present tense may be used to mark a future or if the future is unmarked. For prospective systems the opposition between past and nonpast is primary, while for retrospective systems the future vs. nonfuture is primary." Muysken assumes that all cases where the event is posterior to the moment of speech are universally marked (see markedness theory), but this will depend on whether the language is primarily retrospective or prospective in terms of its marking of time relations. "Such cases may be more or less marked relative to the distinctions within a particular system . . . the meaning of any tense form depends on the occurrence of that form in a particular language." (R: 271).