Reduction in Vocabulary
- Pidgins show reduction in vocabulary:
(A click on the link will direct you to the relevant pidgin/creole text containing the examples presented here.)
(a) Pidgins have an overall small stock of words
- The number of compounds, prepositions and postpositions is reduced in the lexicons of pidgins. Frequently, there are so-called all-purpose prepositions which shape the lexicon of a pidgin language:
- Tok Pisin makes use of the preposition 'long' which can be translated into English as 'in, on, at' etc.
- West African Pidgin English features the preposition 'for' indicating location which means 'in, at, on, to' etc.
Multifunctionality of words helps to compensate for the small size of a pidgin lexicon. Multifunctionality means that the same lexical item is used or functions in several syntactic categories. For instance, in Tok Pisin the word kaikai can denote either 'food' or 'to eat'.
- Extension of Meanings:
In other cases, the meaning of a word is extended so that it can cover several concepts. In Tok Pisin, the word 'lek' can mean 'leg', 'foot', 'hind leg' or 'footprint'. Likewise, nil covers the semantic range of the English 'nail', 'needle', 'thorn', 'syringe' or 'bodkin'.
(Information taken and adapted from Sebba, 1997)