Technically speaking, is Doggo a pidgin language?

By: | Post date: 2017-03-19 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: English, Linguistics

Hate to bring the serious to the answer, but I’m with Jiim Klein:

  1. Pidgins are called that because of their origins, rather than their grammar, although they do tend to be remarkably similar.
  2. “Foreigner talk”, the way people dumb down language when talking to non-fluent speakers, are informally called pidgins, and indeed foreigner talk is a major origin of actual pidgins.
  3. Language games are typically not called pidgins.
  4. The recurring features of pidgins are things like dropping grammatical markers, using unmarked inflections, very simple syntactic structures.

Now, I’m not up on my memes, coz I’m old.

  • Lolcat is a mix of foreigner talk, baby talk (which has overgeneralised inflections rather than unmarked inflections), and all-out whimsy; I find it hard to believe that any real pidgin would use the I of I can haz cheezeburger?, let alone the are of I are crying cuz I are out of focuss.
  • Doge (meme) has a syntactic frame much too restricted to be a pidgin (many mis-subcategorisation, much exclamatory, such ludic), and a far more subtle sense of modifiers than any pidgin would bother with.
  • I don’t know Doggo. If Doggo is not Doge, and is exemplified in How did the doggo language start? • r/OutOfTheLoop: doggo does a bork and u r doing me a frighten—then again, too much play on normal English syntax, and too much play with wrong inflections and derivations to be pidgin-like: a pidgin would just cut it down to Yu mekim mi frait.

You point out the use of gerunds for tense in Doggo as a pidgin: a pidgin is not going to know what a gerund is, because pidgins drop all the grammar they can. Tense in pidgins are separate words; the classic English-based pidgins use words like by-and-by (future), finish (perfective), been (past).

I mean, if people stuck on a plantation with no common language but what the masters barked at them spontaneously started speaking in Doggo, then yeah, Doggo would be a pidgin. But what I’m finding doesn’t look like a pidgin. What I’m finding is comically inverted English, rather than radically stripped down English.

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