Polygenetic Theories (multiple-origin theories)

  • Polygenetic theories contrast with the monogenesis theories which propose a common origin for European-based pidgins and creoles.

  • Polygenetic theories address all cases of pidginization: they are not restricted to European-based pidgins and creoles but account for the structural similarities between pidgins and creoles worldwide.

  • According to polygenetic theories, the pidgins and creoles of the world did not evolve from a common ancestor or proto-pidgin but rather developed separately from one another with different starting points. Structural similarities are thus the result of parallel but independent developments of the world’s pidgins and creoles.

  • In this connection, universalist theories and the influence of substrate languages are seen as central explanatory factors or mechanisms involved in the development of the structural similarities of both pidgins and creoles.

(Information adapted from Sebba 1997)