• Morgan Fagg

From Pidgin English to Business English

Updated: May 5

Do you know what Pidgin English is and what it means?

Don't worry, neither did I. I always thought it was pigeon English and was meant to convey two small birds talking and while Pidgin English is wrongly confused with carrier pigeons in the sense that pigeons have long been used to carry short messages, the origin apparently comes from the Chinese pronunciation of the English word Business.

Thus Pidgin English originally meant Business English and it suggests the ability to communicate the basics rather than the high level of English expected in Business English nowadays.

The word has been used for approximately 150 years but it was only today as I was reading a passage from Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway and I saw the description of an Italian priest speaking Pidgin Italian to him and I decided to look up the origin of the word.

I think we have come along way from basic Pidgin English to modern business communication and nowadays we would associate Pidgin (not spelt pigeon as I always imagined) as a basic form of communication.

Here is the explanation of the word on Wikipedia but if anyone asks where you heard of the word Pidgin, just tell them that a little bird told you.


A pidgin, or pidgin language, is a grammatically simplified means of communication that develops between two or more groups 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).

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

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