Bislama

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Bislama is a creole language, one of the official languages of Vanuatu. It is the first language of many of the "Urban ni-Vanuatu" (those who live in Port Vila and Luganville), and the second language of the rest of the country's residents. "Yumi, Yumi, Yumi", the Vanuatu national anthem, is in Bislama.

More than 95% of Bislama words are of English origin; the remainder combines a few dozen words from French, as well as some vocabulary inherited from various languages of Vanuatu, essentially limited to flora and fauna terminology.[1] While the influence of these vernacular languages is low on the vocabulary side, it is very high in the morphosyntax. Bislama can be basically described as a language with an English vocabulary and an Oceanic grammar.[2]

Contents

History

During the period known as Blackbirding, in the 1870s and 1880s, hundreds of thousands of Pacific islanders (many of them from the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) archipelago) were enslaved and forced to work on plantations, mainly in Queensland, Australia and Fiji.[3] With several languages being spoken in these plantations, a pidgin was formed, combining English vocabulary[4] with grammatical structures typical of languages in the region.[5] This early plantation pidgin is the origin not only of Bislama, but also of Tok Pisin of Papua New Guinea and Pijin of the Solomon Islands, though not of Torres Strait Creole north of Australia.

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