What Is a Creole Language?

(Last Updated On: July 19, 2019)
What Is a Creole Language?

Whether you’ve heard of a Creole language or not, it’s a pretty fascinating concept. Essentially, it’s a language that develops when two or more people who are native to different languages come together and form their own language. This neo-language is then adopted by others and becomes the first spoken, native language of people in future generations. 

Understanding Pidgin Languages

To make the concept easier to understand, a Creole is actually created when it develops from a Pidgin language. A Pidgin language is one that forms when native speakers of two different languages come together to communicate. It develops as the blended result of communicating using two different languages, where the vocabulary of one and the grammar of another blend together to create a new way of speaking, using their own words and rules. People from different backgrounds spend enough time together to start forming this language. Although Pidgins generally have limited vocabulary and make communication difficult.

Pidgins are usually based on the most widely-spoken languages around the world, such as English, Spanish, and French, but they can be built upon any combination of languages. Languages that are used as a basis to develop new languages are called “Parent Languages”.

While there are Pidgin languages throughout the world today, they don’t typically last long because they are no longer needed when these people don’t have any reason to continue communication. If they find others who speak their native language or move to another community, they might lose the need to continue with the Pidgin language and forget it.

What Is a Creole Language?

Now that you know what a Pidgin language is, it should be easier to understand the Creole. When a Pidgin language doesn’t disappear after a few years and lives on to become the first language for people in the next generation, it becomes a Creole. 

In other words, when two people from different languages come together and form their own language, which is then adopted by future generations as a native language and continues to live on, that becomes a Creole. 

Although it is a hybrid language, it’s natural for native speakers because they’re born into it. This process of a new language gaining native speakers is called nativization, and is most common when parents come together from different languages to form a Pidgin, which is later on adopted by their children as their first language. These children then grow up speaking the Creole language, abiding by the sentence structures and rules.

Are There Creole Languages in the World Today?

There are Creole languages that were formed from some of the major languages today, including English, Portuguese, French, Spanish, Kongo, Malay, Hindi, Indonesian, and others. Some countries even have a Creole language as their national language. For example, in Haiti, they speak Haitian Creole.

Keep reading to check out a list of some of the most popular Creole languages around the world today and get a sense of the wide geographical scope and popularity of Creole languages across the globe:

  • English-Based – Jamaican Creole, Bajan in Barbados, Krio in Sierra Leone, Hawai’ian Creole in the U.S., Kriol in Australia
  • French-Based – Haitian Creole, Louisiana Creole in the U.S., and Guadeloupean Creole in Guadeloupe and Martinique
  • Portuguese-Based – Kabuverdianu in Cape Verde Islands, Crioulo in Guinea-Bissau, and Sãotomense in São Tomé e Principe
  • Spanish-Based – Chavacano in the Philippines
  • Kongo-Based – Kituba in the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Malay-Based – Betawi, Ambonese in Indonesia, and Malay Kupang in West Timor
  • Ngbandi-Based – Sango in the Central African Republic
  • Mix of Spanish and Portuguese-Based – Papiamentu in Netherland Antilles
  • Afrikaans-Based – Tsotsitaal in South Africa
  • Arabic-Based – Arabic, Sudanese Creole in Sudan
  • Hindi-Based – Andaman Creole in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  • Indonesian-Based – Peranakan in Indonesia 
  • Assamese-Based – Naga in India
  • Tetun-Based – Tetun-Dili in East Timor
  • Swahili-Based – Cutchi-Swahili in Kenya and Tanzania 

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