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Creole language

A creole is a language descended from a pidgin that has become the native language of a group of people. Study of Creole languages around the world (in particular by Derek Bickerton) has shown that they display remarkable similarities in grammar, lending support to the theory of a Universal Grammar. The majority of creole languages are based on English and other Indo-European languages (their superstrate language), with local or immigrant languages as substrate languages.

In some cases the group of people who speak such a language are called Creoles.

Below are described some of the better-known creoles.

Table of contents
1 Spanish Creole
2 Kreyol Lwiziyen
3 Chinook Jargon
4 Haitian Creole
5 Hawai'ian Pidgin
6 Kreyol
7 kiSwahili
8 Tok Pisin
9 Papiamentu
10 Kriol
11 Pitcairnese

Spanish Creole

For information on Spanish-based Creole languages see Spanish Creole.

Kreyol Lwiziyen

Louisiana creole, spoken mainly by African Americans Creoles in Louisiana.

Chinook Jargon

was used as a trade language by Native Americans prior to, and shortly after, contact with Europeans. It contains elements of Cree and many neighboring Native American languages. After European contact, it also began incorporating elements of French and English. While not strictly speaking a creole (it had no native speakers), it had well-defined grammar, phonology, and vocabulary, and thus can be placed in the category of creoles.

Haitian Creole

is a language spoken primarily in Haiti. French is its superstrate language, with numerous African languages and some local indigenous languages providing substrate input.

Hawai'ian Pidgin

was a jargon used in the early European colonization of the Hawai'ian Islands. English served as the superstrate language, with Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and Hawai'ian elements incorporated. Although children started using it as a lingua franca and continued to do so long enough for Bickerton to observe the progress of creolization, it never became a true creole, because English became the primary language of Hawai'i after it become a U.S. state.


is spoken in Liberia, and has English and French as superstrate languages, with several Bantu languages as substrate languages.


Some people consider kiSwahili to be an Arabic-based creole spoken in East Africa. It is also an official language of Tanzania.

Tok Pisin

is spoken throughout Papua New Guinea. English is the superstrate language, with various Papuan languages providing grammatical and lexical input.


Spoken in Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire and the Dutch West Indies. Portuguese and Spanish are the superstrate.


Also known as Roper River Creole, has become the major non-English language among Aboriginal Australians with over 10,000 first language speakers.


Spoken exclusively by the inhabitants of the Pitcairn Islands, an 18th century dialect of English is spoken with the Tahitian language to form the Creole language known as Pitcairnese.