Aarhus Universitets segl

Same same but different? How similar are Pitcairn and Norfolk?

Linguistic guest lecture by Joshua Nash, University of Adelaide. Monday 29 February.

Oplysninger om arrangementet


Tirsdag 1. marts 2016,  kl. 15:00 - 16:30


Nobelparken, Building 1485-414


The languages of Pitcairn Island and Norfolk Island have been and still are of great interest to scholars of varieties of English and language contact. While there is a corpus of technical literature dedicated to the history of the languages, their lexica, work on grammatical description, social, cultural, and ecological descriptions of the emplacement of the language, and work on place names, little comparative work has ever been conducted on the languages Pitcairn and Norfolk.

This is unexpected and is a somewhat lost opportunity because research into these languages offers unprecedented conditions to observe not only the birth, development, expansion, change, transplantation, and modern struggles of these languages, but also a ripe case for comparison across time and space. The contention is that much research, primarily conducted by scholars who have never travelled to the islands where the languages are spoken, has assumed without adequate evidence that Pitcairn and Norfolk are the same language or equitable linguistically in significant ways.

This issue exists aside from the fact that Pitcairn and Norfolk are mutually intelligible; the phonology, lexical stock, semantics, and discourse structure in these languages appears at first glance to range from significantly different to vastly distinct.

This presentation signposts the opportunity of comparing several key changes in lexical and grammatical form and content in Pitcairn and Norfolk. It argues that asking the question of how similar Pitcairn and Norfolk are can contribute to studies of varieties of English, Pacific contact Englishes, and creolistics.


Read more about the history of the languages of the islands in the Danish-based linguistics journal Acta Linguistica Hafniensia:

Philip Baker & Peter Mühlhäusler. The Creole legacy of a bounteous mutineer: Edward Young's Caribbean contribution to the language of Pitcairn and Norfolk Islands. Acta Linguistica Hafniensia, Volume 45, Issue 2, 2013, 170-186.