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VMs: pidgins

Re pidgin

knoxmix@xxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:

Maybe this has been exhausted on the list in the past but I will bring it up again anyway. What could account for the binomial distribution of vocabulary words as shown by Jorge Stolfi?


I think this is an acid test for any scheme that someone might devise. Does it show that the Currier transcription is pretty close to the mark or is it a function of the transcription? I ran a check on a long section, almost 8000 tokens, of an unmodified EVA transcription that I have been working with and it showed almost identical results. It will be interesting to see whether this holds with shorter sections and if not, where and how it breaks. Does it vary from one section to another? Is it consistent with a real vocabulary in the writing about certain subjects or with any known specific cipher? Who would have such a vocabulary? Could (the) elimination of certain (sometimes) unessential parts of speech or letters explain it? (Shorthand, Nick?) Pidgin? Maybe there was a European Pidgin that became obsolete.

There was - it was called Lingua Franca. Mediterranean, possibly the right sort of period for VMs. Pidgins have interesting properties in relation to grammar (restricted) but suffer from having rather restricted lexicons - as they depend upon travellers/traders for their creation/maintenance (they seem to crop up predominantly in maritime locations). Problematically for historians of language they tend not to be writen down (their purpose is to permit/facilitate verbally transacted business/intercourse) and this will, in the context of VMs, permit almost endless creative speculation as folk have a shot at constructing putative pidgins to fit. When they become creoles they become grammaticalised and intergenerational transmission can set in. But then they are not pidgins any more.

Have a look at Hugo Schuchardt's essay on Lingua Franca - 1909 - in the book on pidgins and creoles edited/translated by Glenn Gilbert. And there are many other books about pidgins and creoles, look for authors like Bickerton, DeCamp, Hymes, Mühlhäusler.

One useful statistical test might be to take some transcribed pidgin and analyse it for token frequencies etc. I'd suspect the entropy would be very high as grammatical morphology would be largely absent, removing suffixation (which is what one thinks one sees in the VMs).



Ciao ......... Knox

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