ka bilong mi i bagarap

The sounds of a pidgin or creole are likely to be fewer and less complicated in their possible arrangements than those of the corresponding standard language. For example, Tok Pisin makes use of only five basic vowels and also has fewer consonants than English. No contrast is possible between words like it and eat, or pin and fin, or sip, ship, and chip: the necessary vowel and consonant distinctions (contrasts) are not present. Speakers of Tok Pisin distinguish a ship from a sheep by calling the first a sip and the second a sipsip.

The vocabulary of a pidgin or a creole has a great many similarities to that of the standard language with which it is associated. However, it will be much more limited, and phonological and morphological simplification often leads to words assuming somewhat different shapes. As noted above in the example of sip and sipsip, it is sometimes necessary to use this reduplicative pattern to avoid possible confusion or to express certain concepts, e.g., ‘repetition’ or ‘intensification.’ Consequently, we find pairs like talk (‘talk’) and talktalk (‘chatter’), dry (‘dry’) and drydry (‘unpalatable’), look (‘look’) and looklook (‘stare’), cry (‘cry’) and crycry (‘cry continually’), pis (‘peace’) and pispis (‘urinate’), and san (‘sun’) and sansan (‘sand’). Certain concepts require a somewhat elaborate encoding: for example, in Tok Pisin ‘hair’ is gras bilong het, ‘beard’ is gras bilong fes, ‘feathers’ is gras bilong pisin, ‘moustache’ is gras bilong maus, ‘my car’ is ka bilong me, and ‘bird’s wing’ is han bilong pisin. A pidgin or creole may draw on the vocabulary resources of more than one language. Tok Pisin draws primarily from English but also from Polynesian sources, e.g., kaikai (‘food’), and even German, because of historical reasons, e.g., rausim (‘throw out’ from the German heraus, ‘outside’). The source may not always be a ‘polite’ one, e.g., Tok Pisin bagarap (‘break down’) is from the English bugger up. So ka bilong mi i bagarap is ‘My car broke down.’

Ronald Wardhaugh, An Introduction to Sociolinguistics
Advertisements

the present simple is not that simple

The only simple thing about the present simple is that we use one word (e.g. use) rather than two (e.g. has used or is using). That the verb form, except when one uses third-person singular, is the same as the infinitive, does not make it any simpler. Nor does the present simple always refer to present. To use another frequency adverb, it hardly ever specifically refers to present. (I didn’t realise that until I started to prepare my lesson on present simple last week.)

The main use of present simple is to describe habitual actions, such as daily (weekly, monthly etc.) activities. When we say “Ritchie plays guitar” that does not refer to Ritchie’s activity at this exact moment. Right now he may be fast asleep. The grammar books often contrast present simple with confusingly named present continuous (“Ritchie is playing”). Why it is called continuous? All physical processes have some continuity, i.e. take non-zero time. Still, I’d say the tense expressing habitual actions has more right to be called continuous, for they continue for longer time.

Sure enough, present simple is also used to state “general truths”, such as “the entropy of an isolated system never decreases”. By definition, general truth is generally true for the present just as it is for the past and the future.

Perhaps the only scenario when the present simple really deals with the events in present is a live commentary. We heard a lot of it during the last World Cup — insert your favourite quote here.