Chinese Pidgin English pronunciation

Not specific to the West Coast, but…

…a source of deeper information about West Coast Chinese Pidgin English.

Pidgin English Texts from the Chinese English Instructor” by Michelle Li, Stephen Matthews, and Geoff P. Smith (Hong Kong Journal of Applied Linguistics 10(1):79-168) shows us an 1862 phrasebook that taught Cantonese people how to pronounce Chinese Pidgin English.

Because almost all Chinese immigrants to the West Coast of North America were native to that region, and shipped out here via Canton, I thought it might be worth while to show a sample.

Here we get an idea, not just of the grammar and the sounds used, but even (as the authors of the paper point out) the tones felt to be appropriate in CPE.

That last detail is a novel one for us. Tone is never represented in our documents of West Coast CPE, since they were written by people who grew up knowing English but no Chinese.

cpe pronunciation

from page 107

There’s a ton more of this material in the article, linked above.

Because we have few if any audio recordings of West Coast CPE (right?), this article is quite interesting in terms of reconstructing just what that pidgin language sounded like.

What do you think?