Linguistic Fusion: Mixed Languages

Posted by Lindsay Geoffroy



In the past few decades, researchers and laypeople alike have started show a greater understanding of mixed languages. A mixed language is a language that combines two languages – the grammatical elements of one language and the vocabulary of another language.

Researchers and scholars have competing theories on how to categorize languages (ie, is creole a mixed language or a hybrid language?) but the basic criteria for a language to be considered a mixed language bilingualism in at least one of the two language groups in contact, a notable difference between the mixed language and the languages being mixed, and minimal simplification of the elements from each language.


Michif: Michif is a language that blends the French and Cree. The Cree aspect of the language remains grammatically intact, while the French vocabulary and grammar is usually used in noun phrases. This language is spoken by the Metis tribe of St. Laurent, Canada. It arose when French missionaries tried to force French on the indigenous people, resulting in a mixed language.

Media Lengua: Media lengua, meaning “half language,” blends Quichua grammar and Spanish lexical items. This language is one of only a few examples of a “bilingual mixed language.” There are two types of media lengua: Salcedo Media Lengua and Media Lengua of Saraguro. Speakers can be found in both Spain and the Andes Mountains.


Some linguistic researchers consider pidgins and creoles to be mixed languages – others do not see them as yet being at that stage. Some people have probably heard these terms before. What do they mean, and what is the difference?

Pidgin: A pidgin is a new language which develops as a result of scenarios in which people need to communicate with each other, but do not speak the same language. Pidgin English, for example, is a primarily English language that so that Chinese people could communicate with Europeans. There are now several types of Pidgin English, including Thai Pidgin English and Hawaiian Pidgin English.

Creole: If a pidgin language survives and is passed down to a new generation of speakers to become their mother tongue, this tongue becomes known as a creole. A creole is a stable, independent language. The word creole comes from the French “créole,” roughly meaning “to breed.” Some examples are Louisiana Creole French (spoken in Louisiana), Haitian Creole (the French-based official language of Haiti), and Tok Pisin (the official language of Papua New Guinea).

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