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Birds of a Different Feather: Tok Pisin and Hawai'I Creole English as Literary Languages

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Title:Birds of a Different Feather: Tok Pisin and Hawai'I Creole English as Literary Languages
Authors:Romaine, Suzanne
LC Subject Headings:Oceania -- Periodicals.
Date Issued:1995
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Citation:Romaine, S. 1995. Birds of a Different Feather: Tok Pisin and Hawai'i Creole English as Literary Languages. The Contemporary Pacific 7 (1): 81-123.
Abstract:This paper compares the use of two Pacific creole languages, Tok Pisin in Papua
New Guinea and Hawai'i Creole English in the Hawaiian Islands, as written languages
in a literary or poetic function. Although both languages are widely used
in their respective territories, their sociolinguistic status and functions differ
dramatically. In Papua New Guinea, Tok Pisin has existed about seventy years as
a written language with a codified standard. Hawai'i Creole English has, by contrast,
never been written as a language in its own recognized orthography.
Because it has no writing system of its own, Hawai'i Creole English is represented
as if it were a deviant or nonstandard variety of English. In other words,
Hawai'i Creole English is forced to be a literary dialect rather than a literary language.
I look at some of the practical problems connected with the elaboration
process such as standardization and related theoretical issues associated with
narrative technique. Neither language has been used for extended third person
narration in the novel. I will show how literary activity has been connected with
cultural and political nationalism in the two contexts. The paper concludes by
considering the likelihood of successful resolution of these problems within the
current political situation in the Hawaiian Islands and Papua New Guinea.
Appears in Collections: TCP [The Contemporary Pacific], 1995 - Volume 7, Number 1

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