The BBC has a pidgin service


Originally published at:


This has a distinct odor of ebonics.


I’m not sure why you say “odor.” Ebonics/AAVE is a distinct, legitimate dialect.

In standardizing it and writing it out, is it any different from the standardization of, say, Haitian Creole into its own language?


What’s wrong with that? AAVE is a real thing. Pidgin in this case is specifically referring to a dialect/language, not the general “we have portuguese traders on this side and chinese traders on this side, let’s point and get some basic words down so we can vaguely communicate” sense of the word. The BBC isn’t running “English as reported by Mr Yunioshi”.

(Mickey Rooney played a Japanese guy named Mr Yunioshi in a movie some time. It went about as well as you’d expect:



Pidgin is a language that evolved…

I think pidgin is a kind of language, and there’s more than one, right?


Now that it’s recognized as an official language, some TV stations in Hawaii broadcast the news in Hawaiian pigin.


Maybe I’m wrong (it wouldn’t be the first time) but the controversy over ebonics a few years ago struck me as a way for racists to dehumanize African Americans because of the way some of them speak.


Yes, but…Tok Pisin, while technically a creole, is often referred to as Pidgin.


Makes me think of the Melanesian choir hymns from The Thin Red Line:

The video page on YouTube has the lyrics.


Classic video from when pidgin got recognized as an official language:


A pidgin is any…impromptu language is probably the best way to put it. That’s how they start off. You’ve got Englishmen trying to trade with Hawai’ians or something and so you gesture and you talk and you build up a sort of vocabulary that’s not quite English, not quite Hawai’ian. If you’ve ever gone to a foreign country and had to get something done with a native who doesn’t speak English and you not speaking the native language, you’ve made the beginning of a Pidgin.

Oh hey, I was right. I was going to go back for a look before I said “I’m pretty sure this is west african pidgin” and it actually says so in the article :slight_smile: Basically it was how various west african peoples would talk to slavers and other traders, and then because they were able to communicate with the slavers with the pidgin, they were able to communicate with each other with the pidgin. It’s usually not your first language, but the language you use to talk with the people who don’t speak your language, kinda like how if engineering teams from two different countries are working together they would probably communicate in English.


Correct; the implication was that Black Americans don’t have the mental capacity to learn, speak and write grammatically correct English.


The language in question is Nigerian Pidgin.


Ebonics (AAVE instruction) was a very effective way to teach standard English. They taught both and taught kids how to “translate” back and forth. And then those kids were able to produce standard English, when they needed to, at much higher success rates. It was actually a very effective teaching method, but it became such a political nightmare. Because the students were able to separate the two forms of language instead of just hearing some was “wrong” and some was “right” and trying to remember which was which. I think it worked a lot like the way I finally understood English grammar when I was studying Spanish.


I’m not getting into an argument on the ‘merits’ of ebonics or the lack thereof; as that isn’t the topic.

I was simply interjecting some perspective on one particular comment, as a Black woman who remembers that controversial idea, and why there was so much resistance to it from some members of the Black community.


I remember the BB post about this one!


An’ dat da mi su’ serous shit!


Engineers can communicate using language?


I understand. I realize you weren’t trying to start a debate, and I hope you don’t take this as such. I’m just sharing because I found the Ebonics research helpful and more interesting than I had suspected.

As Ebonics began to be talked about in a widespread way, all kinds of people objected–and certainly if I thought they had been insinuating that speakers of AAVE were too stupid to learn standard English, I would have objected thoroughly. But at some point I looked at the original research and saw that it had interesting results. I didn’t switch to formal instruction in “Ebonics” in my classroom, but I did switch to using a “translation” approach when talking about grammar, because of the results from those studies.

I have been very pleased. Students have been more successful when we write out their home language pattern and then translate it into formal English than when I just “corrected” their grammar. And I’ve used it with students with a variety of home language patterns, including southern drawl.


Drive with aloha? Oh my god that’s awesome! And I won’t lie… super cute. Or should I say, Supa-cute!