Language in Society

Research Article

From Fisin to Pijin: Creolization in process in the Solomon Islands

Christine Jourdana1 and Roger Keesinga2

a1 Department of socielogy and Anthoropology, Concordia University, Montréal, Cananda H3G 1M8,

a2 Department of Anthropology, McGill University, Montréal, Canada H3A 2T7


In a combination of ethnohistorical records and longitudinal data gathered over a period of 30 years, the development of Solomon Islands Pijin is documented and analyzed in light of the current debate surrounding creolization theory. Using a pragmatic definition of a Creole (Jourdan 1991), the authors argue that pidgins can be very elaborate codes even before they become the mother tongue of children, and that this elaboration is the result of the linguistic creativity of adults. It is further shown that, in sociolinguistic niches where adults and children use the pidgin as their main language, the impact of the latter on the evolution of the language is of a different nature. (Creolization theory, pidgin languages, substrate influences, urbanization, Solomon Islands Pijin)


† Roger Keesing died in 1993, a few weeks after this joint article was begun it was completed by Christine Jourdan in 1995–96