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Tok Pisin

Tok Pisin
Native to Papua New Guinea
Native speakers
120,000 (2004)
4 million L2 speakers (no date)
English Creole
  • Pacific
    • Tok Pisin
Latin script (Tok Pisin alphabet)
Pidgin Braille
Official status
Official language in
Papua New Guinea
Language codes
ISO 639-2
ISO 639-3
Glottolog tokp1240
Linguasphere 52-ABB-cc
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Tok Pisin (English /tɒk ˈpɪsɪn/;Tok Pisin [ˌtokpiˈsin]) is a creole language spoken throughout Papua New Guinea. It is an official language of Papua New Guinea and the most widely used language in that country. However, in parts of Western, Gulf, Central, Oro Province and Milne Bay Provinces, the use of Tok Pisin has a shorter history, and is less universal, especially among older people. While it likely developed as a trade pidgin, Tok Pisin has become a distinct language in its own right. It is often referred to by Anglophones as "New Guinea Pidgin" or "Pidgin English".

Between five and six million people use Tok Pisin to some degree, although not all speak it well. Many now learn it as a first language, in particular the children of parents or grandparents who originally spoke different vernaculars (for example, a mother from Madang and a father from Rabaul). Urban families in particular, and those of police and defence force members, often communicate among themselves in Tok Pisin, either never gaining fluency in a vernacular (tok ples), or learning a vernacular as a second (or third) language, after Tok Pisin (and possibly English). Perhaps one million people now use Tok Pisin as a primary language.


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