The web as a pidgin internet language

January 28th, 2007 | by ian |

or “How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet”

A disproportionate amount of brilliant stuff was written by Douglas Adams, who in 1999 had this to say about the internet:

the biggest problem is that we are still the first generation of users, and for all that we may have invented the net, we still don’t really get it. In ‘The Language Instinct’, Stephen Pinker explains the generational difference between pidgin and creole languages. A pidgin language is what you get when you put together a bunch of people – typically slaves – who have already grown up with their own language but don’t know each others’. They manage to cobble together a rough and ready lingo made up of bits of each. It lets them get on with things, but has almost no grammatical structure at all.

However, the first generation of children born to the community takes these fractured lumps of language and transforms them into something new, with a rich and organic grammar and vocabulary, which is what we call a Creole. Grammar is just a natural function of children’s brains, and they apply it to whatever they find.

The entire article is a great read, along with most of what he wrote in his lifetime.

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