Jan Wohlgemuth
Grammatical categories and their realisations in Tok Pisin of Papua New Guinea
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4. Reasons for the grammatical status quo in Tok Pisin

As we already saw in the preceding section, the grammatical categories are expressed partly morphologically partly lexically, and there is a series of factors, which influenced the development of the grammar of the Tok Pisin. The three main factors are:

It is an undisputed process in the emergence of Pidgins that besides the vocabulary also categories from the languages involved are taken over. Tok Pisin is far more than a simplified English, because it possesses categories, which English does not have (e.g. object focus; differentiation of inclusive and exclusive we). The developing Pidgin nevertheless does not take over all categories from all parent languages, but is mostly limited to few, which are apparently regarded as the most important (essential) by the speakers. The more accurate differentiation of the personal pronouns (cf. chapter 3.4) is only one example for this.

The speakers of the Pidgins are nevertheless pursuing linguistic economy, since the Pidgin should be easily understandable without large communicative expenditure for all parties involved. Redundant markings (e.g. congruence of article, adjective and noun) are omitted, in order to facilitate an understanding or enable the interlocutors to communicate at all.

If, for example, it is already made obvious by a signal word as yesterday that the predicate is situated in the past, then the marking of the past at the verb is redundant; The subject and if necessary the object of the record are determined by deictic or gestures in most cases, the personal marking at the verb are thus likewise redundant; thus also an uninflected form of the verb ca be employed.

Also the vocabulary is very strongly limited to the area, within which the various groups turn out in contact, e.g. trade, whale hunting. For many topics and circumstances, which are situated outside of this area, and on which therefore reference is being made more rarely, paraphrasings are needed, which are much more economic as that they can be formed ad hoc if needed, and one must not introduce a new lexeme, which must be described itself in order to explain it.

In that moment however, in which the Pidgin is expanded from the contact language in one area of life to a language of the everyday life, the simplified means of the Pidgins are no longer sufficient. A development of the entire system must take place.
However, not mandatorily grammatical categories and markings as well as words from the donor languages are being taken over, but rather own ways of development evolved. Thus word formation and derivative samples are created, which are to be found almost universal with all Creole languages, as for example reduplication or conversion (also called zero-derivation).
With the latter, lexemes are extended in their function (changes of word-class without any derivative affixes) and can be used in different syntactic positions, in which they could not be used in the donor language (cf. HELLINGER, p. 116f), e.g. antap (< on top), 'surface', 'above' or 'high'.

Beyond that, independent lexemes become grammaticalized, they lose their meanings in favor of a grammatical function. Thus for example the (phonologically reduced) personal pronoun i (< he) became the predicate marker, which must be mandatory before the predicate with all persons except 1SG, 2SG and 1PL(incl). (cf. ROMAINE, p. 39). Likewise, also the emergence of the future marker bai is to be explained. (cf. chapter 3.1)
A well-developed Pidgin already has many of these features, however only the restructured variety, which also permits stylistic variation, is an indication for the fact that the language became a Creole. (cf. for this: ROMAINE, p. 154ff; Hock, p. 524f; HELLINGER, p. 113ff).

5. Concluding remark

We saw that Tok Pisin is far more as a strongly corrupted English implemented with some Papua words, which is used as contact language between colonial gentlemen and natives of Papua New Guinea. It is the native language of a not inconsiderable number of speakers, it is one of the state languages of Papua New Guinea, and it possesses a differentiated grammar, which fairly suits all requests to a functioning everyday life language.

And this grammar has developed itself in the last about 120 years in accordance with the demands, which were made against Tok Pisin. It was first shaped from striving to understandability and maximal communicative economy, became however in its further development, particularly after the independence of Papua New Guinea (1975) ever more the general traffic language: it became a Creole.

Despite a structure of different categories and styles it can still be seen from Tok Pisin that it was and is subject to language economics. A redundant multiple marking does not exist, or only as stylistic device. Circumstances, which can be concluded from the context, are not repeatedly marked likewise.
Briefly said: Tok Pisin is - despite all first glance "poverty of forms" - an independent, fully functioning language.

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