In our all-too-fleeting free time, we’ve been researching the development of Nigerian Pidgin (primarily so we can better understand the comedic stylings of Basketmouth). This exploration recently led us to another mash-up language: Solomon Islands Pijin, which shares some English influence but not much else with its Nigerian cousin. According to a leading Pijin scholar, the language grew out of something called Beach-la-mar, an archaic 18th-century trade language used in the South Pacific. It’s name stems from a a mispronunciation of a type of edible marine invertebrate, and it was developed due to some callous labor practices—specifically the transportation of indentured servants from island to island, depending on crop profitability.
Check out the vocab list that linguist William Churchill compiled in 1911, right before the language disappeared altogether. We never cease being amazed by our species ability to develop lingua francas on the fly. That talent probably goes a long way to explaining why we’re not in a Planet of the Apes situation, actually.