Published online by Cambridge University Press: 30 September 2009
There is a substantial body of work that focuses on the linguistic systems immigrant workers construct in the naturalistic acquisition process of the host country language (Heidelberger Forschungsprojekt 1975; Blackshire-Belay 1991; Klein and Perdue 1992, and bibliography therein). One key observation expressed by Klein and Perdue (1992:315) in their comparative study of immigrant speech in Europe is that many of the L2 learners' speech, independently of the source or target languages involved, shared a basic variety of naturalistically learned L2 in which the development, though not identical, was remarkably similar.
I consider naturalistic L2 acquisition by immigrants as interesting for various reasons, two of which are: it can show us in some cases the processes through which speakers of one language acquire another that is typologically different, and it can give us insights into the initial stages of pidginization, as I suggested in chapter 3.
When one thinks of pidginization and pidgins, what often comes to mind is the image of plantation pidgins involving several languages in contact and people under the yoke of slavery. However, manuals on contact languages (e.g. Bakker 1995; Holm 1988, 1989; Mühlhäusler 1986; Sebba 1997; Winford 2003) remind us that pidgins also form in other language contact situations, such as those involving inter-ethnic and/or immigrant communities, trade, or tourist situations. In the latter two cases, we also encounter instances of naturalistically learned L2 varieties instead of pidgins (e.g., Hinnenkamp 1984), and it is at times difficult to distinguish between pidgins on the one hand and untutored L2 varieties on the other (cf. Blackshire-Belay 1991; Heidelberger Forschungsprojekt 1975). As we shall see, whether a particular variety is labelled a pidgin or an L2 variety depends on the definitions employed.