|Native to||Norfolk Island, Pitcairn Islands, New Zealand|
|ca. 400 Pitcairn-Norfolk (2008)|
36 on Pitcairn (2002)
Official language in
Pitkern, also known as Pitcairn-Norfolk or Pitcairnese, is a linguistic cant based on an 18th-century mix of English and Tahitian. It is a primary language of the Pitcairn Islands, though it has more speakers on Norfolk Island. Although spoken on Pacific Ocean islands, it has been described as an Atlantic Creole, due to the lack of connections with the English creoles of the Pacific. There are about 50 speakers on Pitcairn Island, Britain's last remaining territory in the South Pacific.
Following the Mutiny on the Bounty on 28 April 1789, the British mutineers stopped at Tahiti and took 18 Polynesians, mostly women, to remote Pitcairn Island and settled there. Pitkern was influenced by the diverse English dialects and accents of the crew. Geographically, the mutineers were drawn from as far as the West Indies, with one mutineer being described as speaking a forerunner of a Caribbean patois. One was a Scot from the Isle of Lewis. At least one, the leader Fletcher Christian, was a well-educated man, which at the time made a major difference in speech. Both Geordie and West Country dialects have obvious links to some Pitkern phrases and words, such as whettles, meaning food, from victuals.
Relationship to Norf'k
Norf'k is descended predominantly from the Pitkern spoken by settlers on Norfolk Island originally from the Pitcairn Islands. The relative ease of travel from English-speaking countries such as Australia, New Zealand or Papua New Guinea to Norfolk Island, particularly when compared with that of travel to the Pitcairn Islands, has meant that Norf'k has been exposed to much greater contact with English relative to Pitkern. The difficulties in accessing the Pitcairn population have meant that a serious comparison of the two languages for mutual intelligibility has proven difficult.
Pronouns included aklen 'we/us' (or just 'us', with wi for 'we'; commonly spelled uklun), hami 'you and I' / 'you and us', and yoli 'you (plural)'.
|Whata way ye?||How are you?|
|About ye gwen?||Where are you going?|
|You gwen whihi up suppa?||Are you going to cook supper?|
|I nor believe.||I don't think so.|
|Ye like-a sum whettles?||Would you like some food?|
|Do' mine.||It doesn't matter. I don't mind.|
|Wa sing yourley doing?||What are you doing? What are you up to?|
|I se gwen ah big shep.||I'm going to the ship.|
|Humuch shep corl ya?||How often do ships come here?|
|Cum yorley sulluns!||Come on all you kids!|
|I se gwen ah nahweh.||I'm going swimming.|
|Lebbe!||Let it be!|
Note: Pitkern spelling is not standardised.
Excerpts from a transcription of Pitkern
The sentences below are excerpted from a longer dialogue held in 1951 between a teenage speaker of Pitkern and A.W. Moverley, a foreigner who worked as a schoolteacher on Pitcairn during the mid-20th century. The dialogue was recorded by Moverley and later transcribed in the International Phonetic Alphabet by A.C. Gimson, with translations to English provided by Moverley.
|English cognates||what way||you|
|Translation||“How are||you (sg.)?”|
|English cognates||I||been||sore||since||yesterday||the||other one||the||other one|
|Translation||“I’ve||been||ill||for the past three days.”|
|English cognates||I||bring||one||of||victuals||along for||me|
|Translation||“I’ve||brought||some||food||for myself with me."|
|English cognates||I||been||take||one||I||tater||[Tahitian: "type of pudding"]||in||a||plantain's||leaf|
|English cognates||you all you||[Tahitian: "silence"]|
|Translation||“You (pl.)||be quiet!”|
|English cognates||do not||[Tahitian: "obstinate"]|
|English cognates||you all you||pile||of||people||can't||what thing||you all you||talking||about|
|Translation||“You (pl.)||lot||don't know||what||you're||talking||about."|
|English cognates||you all you||do not||talk|
|Translation||"We||get||our||bags of flour||from||ships."|
Poetry in Pitkern
Some poetry exists in Pitkern. The poems of Meralda Warren are of particular note.
- Pitcairn-Norfolk at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- Hammarström, Harald; Forke, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2020). "Pitcairn-Norfolk". Glottolog 4.3.
- Donald Laycock (1989) 'The Status of Pitcairn-Norfolk: Creole, Dialect or Cant? In Ammon (ed.) Status and Function of Language and Language Varieties, Walter de Gruyter
- Avram, Andrei (2003). "Pitkern and Norfolk revisited". English Today. 19 (1): 44–49. doi:10.1017/S0266078403003092.
- "Pitcairn Census". library.puc.edu.
- Tryon, Darrell T.; Charpentier (2004). Pacific Pidgins and Creoles. Berlin: Jean-Michel. p. 11. ISBN 3-11-016998-3.
- Kallgard (1993) Pitcairnese
- Mühlhäusler, Peter. "The History of writing Pitkern and Norf’k (talk given at the History Society in 2019)." p. 8
- Ross, Alan S. C.; Moverley, A. W.; Schubert; Maude; Flint; Gimson (1964). The Pitcairnese Language. London: Andre Deutsch. pp. 121–135.
- Mühlhäusler, Peter. "The History of writing Pitkern and Norf’k (talk given at the History Society in 2019)." p. 12
- Ross, Alan Strode Campbell and A.W. Moverly. The Pitcairnese Language (1964). London: Oxford University Press.
- South Pacific phrasebook (1999). Hawthorn, Australia: Lonely Planet Publications.
- History of writing pitkern and norf-k
|Norfuk / Pitkern edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Norfuk-Pitkern phrasebook.|