This book provides explanations for the emergence of contact languages, especially pidgins and creoles. It assesses the current state of research and examines aspects of current theories and approaches that have excited much controversy and debate. The book answers questions such as: How valid is the notion of a pidgin-creole-postcreole life cycle? Why are many features of pidgins and creoles simple in formal terms compared to other languages? And what is the origin
of the grammatical innovations in expanded pidgins and creoles - linguistic universals, conventional language change, the influence of features of languages in the contact environment, or a mix of two or more factors? In addressing these issues, the author looks at research on processes of second
language acquisition and use, including simplification, overgeneralization, and language transfer. He shows how these processes can account for many of the characteristics of contact languages, and proposes linguistic and sociolinguistic constraints on their application in language contact. His analysis is supported with detailed examples and case studies from Pidgin Fijian, Melanesian Pidgin, Hawai'i Creole, New Caledonian Tayo and Australian Kriol, which he uses as well to assess the merits
of competing theories of language genesis. Professor Siegel also considers his research's wider implications for linguistic theory.
Jeff Siegel is Adjunct Professor of Linguistics at the University of New England in Australia and an Associate Researcher at the University of Hawai'i. His main research interests are in contact varieties of language in the Australia-Pacific region. His published work includes Language Contact in a Plantation Environment: a Sociolinguistic History of Fiji (CUP, 1988), Processes of Language Contact: Studies from Australia and the South Pacific
(Fides, 2000), and articles in Language in Society, Studies in Language, Applied Linguistics, Studies in Second Language Acquisition, and the Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages.