Creole language

Road sign in Guadeloupe Creole meaning Slow down. Children are playing here. The literal translation is "Lift your foot [from the accelerator]. There are children playing here".

A creole language,[1][2][3] or simply creole, is a stable natural language that develops from the simplifying and mixing of different languages at a fairly sudden point in time: often, a pidgin transitioned into a full-fledged language. While the concept is similar to that of a mixed or hybrid language, a creole is often additionally defined as being highly simplified when compared to its parent languages. However, a creole is still complex enough that it has a consistent system of grammar, possesses a large stable vocabulary, and is acquired by children as their native language. These three features distinguish a creole language from a pidgin.

The precise number of creole languages is not known, particularly as many are poorly attested or documented. About one hundred creole languages have arisen since 1500. These are predominantly based on European languages such as English and French[4] due to the European Age of Discovery and the Atlantic slave trade that arose at that time.[5] With the improvements in ship-building and navigation, traders had to learn to communicate with people around the world, and the quickest way to do this was to develop a pidgin, or simplified language suited to the purpose; in turn, full creole languages developed from these pidgins. In addition to creoles that have European languages as their base, there are, for example, creoles based on Arabic, Chinese, and Malay. The creole with the largest number of speakers is Haitian Creole, with almost ten million native speakers,[6] followed by Tok Pisin with about 4 million, most of whom are second-language speakers.

The lexicon (or, roughly, the base or essential vocabulary – such as "say" but not "said, tell, told") of a creole language is largely supplied by the parent languages, particularly that of the most dominant group in the social context of the creole's construction. However, there are often clear phonetic and semantic shifts. On the other hand, the grammar that has evolved often has new or unique features that differ substantially from those of the parent languages.


A creole is believed to arise when a pidgin, developed by adults for use as a second language, becomes the native and primary language of their children – a process known as nativization.[7] The pidgin-creole life cycle was studied by American linguist Robert Hall in the 1960s.[8]

Some linguists, such as Derek Bickerton, posit that creoles share more grammatical similarities with each other than with the languages from which they are phylogenetically derived.[9] However, there is no widely accepted theory that would account for those perceived similarities.[10] Moreover, no grammatical feature has been shown to be specific to creoles.[11][12][13][14][15][16]

Many of the creoles known today arose in the last 500 years, as a result of the worldwide expansion of European maritime power and trade in the Age of Discovery, which led to extensive European colonial empires. Like most non-official and minority languages, creoles have generally been regarded in popular opinion as degenerate variants or dialects of their parent languages. Because of that prejudice, many of the creoles that arose in the European colonies, having been stigmatized, have become extinct. However, political and academic changes in recent decades have improved the status of creoles, both as living languages and as object of linguistic study.[17][18] Some creoles have even been granted the status of official or semi-official languages of particular political territories.

Linguists now recognize that creole formation is a universal phenomenon, not limited to the European colonial period, and an important aspect of language evolution (see Vennemann (2003)). For example, in 1933 Sigmund Feist postulated a creole origin for the Germanic languages.[19]

Other scholars, such as Salikoko Mufwene, argue that pidgins and creoles arise independently under different circumstances, and that a pidgin need not always precede a creole nor a creole evolve from a pidgin. Pidgins, according to Mufwene, emerged in trade colonies among "users who preserved their native vernaculars for their day-to-day interactions." Creoles, meanwhile, developed in settlement colonies in which speakers of a European language, often indentured servants whose language would be far from the standard in the first place, interacted extensively with non-European slaves, absorbing certain words and features from the slaves' non-European native languages, resulting in a heavily basilectalized version of the original language. These servants and slaves would come to use the creole as an everyday vernacular, rather than merely in situations in which contact with a speaker of the superstrate was necessary.[20]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Kreools
Alemannisch: Kreolsprachen
العربية: لغة مولدة
asturianu: Llingua criolla
Bân-lâm-gú: Creole giân-gú
беларуская: Крэольскія мовы
български: Креолски език
brezhoneg: Yezhoù kreolek
čeština: Kreolština
Cymraeg: Creol
dansk: Kreolsprog
Deutsch: Kreolsprache
dolnoserbski: Kreolska rěc
eesti: Kreoolkeel
español: Lengua criolla
Esperanto: Kreola lingvo
euskara: Kreolera
فارسی: کریول
français: Créole
Gaeilge: Fásteanga
hornjoserbsce: Kreolska rěč
hrvatski: Kreolski jezici
Bahasa Indonesia: Bahasa kreol
interlingua: Lingua creol
íslenska: Kreólamál
italiano: Lingua creola
ქართული: კრეოლური ენა
Kiswahili: Krioli
Kreyòl ayisyen: Lang kreyòl
lietuvių: Kreolų kalbos
Lingua Franca Nova: Creol
magyar: Kreol nyelv
Bahasa Melayu: Bahasa campuran
Nederlands: Creoolse talen
Nedersaksies: Kreoolsproake
Nordfriisk: Kreoolspriak
norsk nynorsk: Kreolspråk
Piemontèis: Lenghe créole
Plattdüütsch: Kreoolspraak
português: Línguas crioulas
română: Limbă creolă
Simple English: Creole language
slovenščina: Kreolščina
српски / srpski: Креолски језици
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Kreolski jezici
svenska: Kreolspråk
Türkçe: Kreolce
українська: Креольська мова
vèneto: Creolo
Tiếng Việt: Ngôn ngữ Creole
粵語: 歸融話