parler petit-nègre

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by Marcewa, Mar 4, 2008.

  1. Marcewa Senior Member

    Brussels
    France / French
    Hello all,

    Do you have any idea of how to say "parler petit-nègre" in English?

    I heard "double-Dutch" for "petit-nègre".

    Is it correct?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Marcewa Senior Member

    Brussels
    France / French
    I found "pidgin".

    So is it "to speak pidgin (english)"?
     
  3. chapteryx

    chapteryx Senior Member

    Someone can speak pidgin French, pidgin English or pidgin Spanish.
    In a mono-lingual context, you can simply say that he/she speaks pidgin, but it's more common to specify which "core" language is being approximated.
     
  4. Missrapunzel

    Missrapunzel Senior Member

    Paris
    French (France)
    That's surprising to me. I remember having learnt at school that it was "pigeon English". Can you tell me if it's wrong or if it's just a different spelling?
     
  5. ghostmoon Junior Member

    Evreux, France
    English - UK
    You may have heard it as 'pigeon' English, but the linguistic term is 'pidgin', although they're pronounced the same way. Hope that helps!
     
  6. pulsar29

    pulsar29 Senior Member

    Switzerland
    French
    Wouldn't "broken English" work in this case?

    From Wikipedia:
    Broken English is a term used to describe hesitant or badly structured English, specifically as used by non-native speakers of the language.
     
  7. ghostmoon Junior Member

    Evreux, France
    English - UK
    Hmm... perhaps so. I don't know enough about the term in French to say really, but I always took it to refer to a pidgin. Admittedly, though, a pidgin isn't far from 'broken' language, although it does have its own rules, etc., where a 'broken' language doesn't.
     
  8. Missrapunzel

    Missrapunzel Senior Member

    Paris
    French (France)
    Ok thanks for the explanation! I'll make sure I remember the right one. :)
     
  9. ghostmoon Junior Member

    Evreux, France
    English - UK
    No problem at all :)
     
  10. Teafrog

    Teafrog Senior Member

    London
    UK English (& rusty French…)
    Parler petit-nègre could be to speak in pidgin French (or whatever) or speaking gobbledegook. I favour the second one, depending of the context of course. 't is your choice :p
     
  11. sam's mum

    sam's mum Senior Member

    Southampton
    England English
    Is the expression parler petit-nègre perjorative?
     
  12. ghostmoon Junior Member

    Evreux, France
    English - UK
    Yes, it is.
     
  13. pulsar29

    pulsar29 Senior Member

    Switzerland
    French
    You probably won't hear it anymore, at least not within a "politically correct" context, as this expression has some heavy racist undertones going back all the way to colonialism.

    Just like "têtes de nègres" has been replaced by "têtes au choco" (it's a piece of chocolate with cream inside of it) several years ago in popular language, I would think (and hope!) "parler petit nègre" is going down the same road.

    Personally, I wouldn't use this expression....at all. The French one that is ;)
     
  14. sam's mum

    sam's mum Senior Member

    Southampton
    England English
    Thank you, ghostmoon and pulsar29. I shan't use it, then.
     
  15. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    So I'm looking for an inoffensive translation for pidgin (presumably not petit-choco!! :D).

    Seriously ... I've seen le pidgin proposed in another thread, but would that be as widely understood in French as petit-nègre ? Is there another term?

    Ws:)
     
  16. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Let's get the terms right.

    Broken English: English badly spoken by a non-native speaker
    Pidgin English: a simplified form of English combined with elements of another language (originally Chinese) to provide a simple lingua franca for business purposes (pidgin is a Chinese mispronunciation of business). Widely spoken in Indonesia, I believe.
    Gobbledegook: any incomprehensible form of language

    The three terms aren't interchangeable.
     
  17. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Good point, Keith

    I think pidgin has come to be used more widely than in the original sense, and tends to overlap somewhat with broken. (See Definition 2 and Definition 2; 'Origin & History', further down in the second link, dates the extension of meaning at 1921).

    However, coming back to primary meanings (and there's a lot to be said for doing that!), that would put ...

    Pidgin =(or close to) créole, though with a more specific application
    Gobbledegook/gobbledygook = charabia
    Broken (English/French/...) = petit-nègre

    So now I'm looking for an inoffensive translation for broken ... (whatever language)

    Any ideas, anyone?

    Ws:)
     
  18. akaAJ Senior Member

    New York
    American English, Yiddish
    "Pidgin" and "Créole" are accepted technical terms in linguistics, but they are not the same. I believe a "pidgin" is a minimal language for communication between an expert speaker and a non-speaker, while a "créole" is an evolved language spoken between (linguistic) equals, derived in (perhaps large) part from another language. Pushing the point a bit, I'd say that English (to the Norman French) and Yiddish (to Germans) could be called creoles (English term, no accent).

    I don't think there's any totally non-pejorative way to say petit-nègre; I suppose PC could be "uneducated non-native, colonially-imposed French".
     
  19. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo

    speak bad/broken French - parler français comme une vache espagnole (originally it was comme un basque espagnol)

    to speak bad (name of language):
    --parler __________ comme un pied
    --baragouiner le ___________.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2009
  20. akaAJ Senior Member

    New York
    American English, Yiddish
    All in well-honed use, Wildan1, but not exactly inoffensive nor specific enough. Moi, je parle français comme une vache espagnole (de vez en cuando) , mais, puisque j'habite, comme toi, nos États Unis si bien-aimés, personne n'imaginerait dire que je parle petit-nègre.
     
  21. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo

    I understood your question #11 was asking specifically about "broken ____ " --my reply was only about that.

    And unlike petit-nègre they are non-offensive (except if you are a Spanish cow or a foot).
     
  22. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Wildan, thanks for your three suggestions — they'll all come in useful — and for the origin of "une vache espagnole". I was familiar with the expression, but had no idea it was originally 'basque' (logical, though: vasco/vasca> vaca).

    Indeed, akaAJ. Rather than "=(or close to)", I should have written just "close to".

    The similarities I had in mind were that both result from some degree of mixing of two languages (though a greater degree for creole than for pidgin), both play havoc with the grammar and syntax of the 'base' language, both are used by particular groups or communities, and both are only partly comprehensible to speakers of the 'base' language outside those communities; (cf pidgin and creole (def.4).

    The differences are indeed those that you describe — and one thing's for sure: neither corresponds to petit-nègre.

    Ws:)
     
  23. Cànain New Member

    English - UK
    To revive this thread in a slightly different direction - is the term parler nègre synonymous with parler petit-nègre, does anyone know?
     
  24. bh7 Senior Member

    Limestone City
    Canada; English
    heard in Québec: " parler un [Français] patagon / patagonien ", with the meaning of speaking the language badly
     

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