A pidgin is a simplified language which has developed among people whose native languages are different. It arises to fulfill certain limited communicative needs like in trade.

  • A pidgin does not have native speakers.
  • Most pidgins are based on European language. E.g. Chinese pidgin


There are two main types of pidgin namely

Temporal pidgin

Extended pidgin


Is the one that lasts for a short time. For example pidgin that arises during wars when soldiers of different language backgrounds meet. Such pidgin expires when the war ends.


This is the type of pidgin that develops in multilingual areas. I.e. places that have many languages.

Eg. Tok pisin is a good example of English pidgin used in Papua New Guinea


  • It has limited number of vocabulary. So signs are always used
  • It has a reduced grammatical structure and no many functions like tenses, mood and voice
  • There is no concord between subject and predicate

          Eg.  Pusi dring di milk i.e. pussy drinks the milk

  • It has no native speakers
  • There is simplified pronunciation e.g. ch, sh, and s could be pronounced the same
  • Not used in official matters


A Creole is a pidgin that has acquired people who speak it as their first language.

Krio is an example of an English based Creole spoken in Sierra Leone. Also there is Jamaican Creole spoken in Jamaica.


  • Creoles have more advanced vocabulary than pidgins
  • The grammar of Creole is more advanced than that of pidgin
  • There are no forms of BE.

E.g. a good man i.e. He is a good man

  • Subjects and verbs have no concord in present tense

Eg. Juma run fast ie Juma runs fast

  • There is no “s” for making plural in nouns

Eg. Two pen ie two pens

  • Negation is formed by using “no” in the sentence

Eg. I no understand i.e. I don’t understand

  • There is no past tense marker

Eg He go yesterday ie He went yesterday

She take that last week i.e. She took that last week


Register refers to variation of language according to use.

It can also be defined as socially defined variety of language like legal or scientific language.

  • People who do different activities use the same language differently for example teachers use language differently from journalists in their areas of work. So teachers and journalists use different registers.
  • Registers are characterized by the use of special vocabulary, phonological and syntactic features.


Is the language which is accepted officially throughout the speech community.

  • It is the dialect that is regarded to be a model in the language community.


  • A standard dialect is non-localised. I.e. it is not restricted to a particular area
  • It is taught in schools as a model variety
  • It is considered to be the dialect of upper class
  • It is the dialect that dominates the media locally and worldwide
  • It is used in international for a like AU and UN conferences

NOTE:  Standard English is not the best English. It is just like other dialects as it caters for communicative needs as other varieties do.



Is the linguistic knowledge possessed by native speakers of a language


Language competence is the subconscious ability to judge the grammaticability of expressions as used in certain situations.

This knowledge (competence) enables the speaker to distinguish grammatical sentences from ungrammatical ones.

  • Native speakers acquire the linguistic system of their languages without realizing that rules are being learned.


  • Lingua franca


Mother tongue is the first language that a child acquires. It is a language a child masters while still at mother’s knee.

  • A mother tongue is not necessarily the mother tongue of one’s parents.

For example there are children who acquire Kiswahili as their first language while their parents have different mother tongues.


Is the language learnt or acquired after the first language been mastered. For example for most Tanzanians Kiswahili is their L2 while their native languages are their first language.


Is a group of people who regard themselves as the speakers of the same language.

  • How can we determine a speech community?

A community has;

  • Has the same culture
  • Shares the same dialect
  • They speak differently from other speech communities. For example West African English speakers have a speech community.


Is the language whose domains of uses are restricted

  • Some of its uses are for example to across frontiers or with tourists, listening broadcasts, commerce and travel.
  • It has lower or no status compared to L2


Is the language considered to be the main language of a nation. For example Kiswahili in Tanzania and French in France


Is the language that facilitates communication among the people with different languages/varieties. For example Kiswahili is a Lingua Franca in Tanzania as it facilitates communication between people who belong to different ethnic communities.

Again English is the Lingua Franca of the world as it brings people with different linguistic backgrounds together.


Is a situation where a person or society speaks two languages.

  • A bilingual – is a person who speaks two languages. For example a person who is capable of speaking  English and Kiswahili is bilingual.
  • A person becomes bilingual by being born by parents who speak two languages or by learning  a foreign  or another language


Is a situation where two different languages or language varieties co-exist in a community each having different social functions.

  • In this situation one language/variety  has a higher variety than another.
  • A higher variety language is used for formal or serious matters in the society while the lower / language is used for informal uses such as conversation. For instance in Tanzania English and Kiswahili co-exist.
  • English is used as the medium of instruction in secondary schools and higher learning institutions while Kiswahili is a medium of instruction in primary schools. English here is considered  to have higher status than Kiswahili
  • Again another level of diaglossia in Tanzania can be seen if Kiswahili and ethnic communities languages are examined.
  • Here Kiswahili is regarded as of higher status than native languages.
  • Functions of these are different. For example it is not a wonder to see the people with common native language conducting village meeting in Kiswahili.


Is a variety of English spoken by a working class especially in the eastern end of London.

  • It is considered as the language of unimportant people.

Characteristics of cockney

  1. Phonology
  2. /v/ is pronounced as /w/ and /w/ as /v/

Eg. Vine and weal are pronounced as wine and veal

  • /h/ is pronounced after ‘w’ . Therefore there is no difference between while and wile, where and were etc.
  • Omition of /h/ when it appears initially. Thus heart is pronounced as art
  • Spelling

Spelling differs as well

Eg. Abaht – about

Muvver – mother

Orl – all

Gawd – God

  • Syntax and usage

The grammar of cockney is non-standard

For instance

  • There is  use of double negation

Eg. There aint nuffink like it i.e. There is nothing like it

  • Question tags are widely used to encourage agreement

Well, e knew orl abaht it, dinne? I.e. well he knew well about it, didn’t he?

  • Done and seen are used for did and saw

Eg I done it yesterday i.e. I did it yesterday


Is the type of language found in specific fields such law and medicine. Such language tends to use words and structures which are mainly understood by the members of the field.

It poses some difficulty to other people who do not belong to that field.

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