Structure dataset 20: Chinese Pidgin English

This language is described more fully in survey chapter 20.

Chinese Pidgin English is represented in two kinds of sources from the China trade period: (i) western texts such as memoirs and travelogues which give examples of pidgin phrases and dialogue, and (ii) phrasebooks in which pidgin words and phrases are represented using Chinese characters. The language represented in these sources differs in ways which are systematic, leading scholars to believe that Chinese Pidgin English as spoken by Chinese speakers differed from that used by speakers of English and other European languages (Ansaldo, Matthews & Smith 2011). The default lect for the Chinese Pidgin English dataset is the variety used by Chinese speakers as represented in the phrasebooks, from which the majority of examples are drawn (see Li, Matthews & Smith 2005). The alternate European lect referred to in the entries for certain features is the variety used by speakers of European languages as represented in the memoirs and similar western texts.

No. Feature Value lect Details Source
No. Feature Value lect Details Source


Pulmonic Consonants
Place → Labial Coronal Dorsal Laryngeal
↓ Manner Bilabial Labio­dental Linguo­labial Dental Alveolar Palato-
Retroflex Alveolo-
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal
/ Epiglottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Stop p  b t  d k  g
Sibilant affricate t͡s t͡sʰ t͡ʃʰ d͡ʒ
Non-sibilant affricate
Sibilant fricative s z ʃ ʒ
Non-sibilant fricative f v θ ð h
Approximant l j
Flap or tap
Trill r
Lateral affricate
Lateral fricative
Lateral approximant
Lateral flap


Front Near-front Central Near-back Back Close Near-close Close-mid Mid Open-mid Near-open Open ihigh front unrounded vowel ɨhigh central unrounded vowel uhigh back rounded vowel ɪlowered high front unrounded vowel ehigher mid front unrounded vowel ohigher mid back rounded vowel əmid central unrounded vowel ɛlower mid front unrounded vowel ɔlower mid back rounded vowel æraised low front unrounded vowel alow central unrounded vowel

Special segments

Other segments
 w  voiced labial-velar glide
 ai  diphthong falling from low central unrounded vowel to high front unrounded vowel
 au  diphthong falling from low central unrounded vowel to to high back rounded vowel
 ɔi  diphthong falling from lower mid back rounded vowel to high front unrounded vowel


       Exists (as a major allophone)
       Exists only as a minor allophone
       Exists only in loanwords
No. Feature Value lect Details Source