creole language (krēōlˈ) [key], any language that began as a pidgin but was later adopted as the mother tongue by a people in place of the original mother tongue or tongues. Examples are the Gullah of South Carolina and Georgia (based on English), the creole of Haiti (based on French), and the Papiamento of the Netherlands possessions in the West Indies (developed from pidgin Spanish and Portuguese). Similarities among creoles worldwide have led some linguists to speculate that they share a common origin, probably Sabir (see lingua franca); others attribute the similarities to universal laws governing human language.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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