A pidgin[1][2][3] /ˈpɪɪn/, or pidgin language, is a grammatically simplified means of communication that develops between two or more groups of people that do not have a language in common: typically, its vocabulary and grammar are limited and often drawn from several languages. It is most commonly employed in situations such as trade, or where both groups speak languages different from the language of the country in which they reside (but where there is no common language between the groups). Linguists do not typically consider pidgins as full or complete languages.

Fundamentally, a pidgin is a simplified means of linguistic communication, as it is constructed impromptu, or by convention, between individuals or groups of people. A pidgin is not the native language of any speech community, but is instead learned as a second language.[4][5]

A pidgin may be built from words, sounds, or body language from a multitude of languages as well as onomatopoeia. As the lexicon of any pidgin will be limited to core vocabulary, words with only a specific meaning in the lexifier language may acquire a completely new (or additional) meaning in the pidgin.

Pidgins have historically been considered a form of patois, unsophisticated simplified versions of their lexifiers, and as such usually have low prestige with respect to other languages.[6] However, not all simplified or "unsophisticated" forms of a language are pidgins. Each pidgin has its own norms of usage which must be learned for proficiency in the pidgin.[7]

A pidgin differs from a creole, which is the first language of a speech community of native speakers that at one point arose from a pidgin. Unlike pidgins, creoles have fully developed vocabulary and patterned grammar. Most linguists believe that a creole develops through a process of nativization of a pidgin when children of acquired pidgin-speakers learn and use it as their native language.

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