Skip to main content

The influence of Edward Young's St Kitts Creole in Pitcairn Island and Norfolk Island toponyms 1

  • JOSHUA NASH (a1)

Edward Young, the midshipman who sided with Fletcher Christian during the Mutiny on the Bounty, which took place in 1789, was an English and St Kitts Creole speaker. The influence of Young's Kittitian lexicon and grammar toponyms (placenames) in the Pitcairn Island language – Pitcairn – exists in features such as the use of articles and possessive constructions. Pitcairn was moved to Norfolk Island sixty-six years after the settling of Pitcairn Island in 1790 by the mutineers and their Polynesian counterparts. While Kittitian for ‘for, of’ and Kittitian-derived articles ha/ah only occur in a few documented placenames in Pitcairn, the fer and ar/dar elements of possessive constructions in placenames in Norfolk, the Norfolk Island language still spoken today by the descendants of the Pitcairners, are more common than in Pitcairn placenames. It is argued that the use of the for/fer possessive construction and article forms are key social deictic markers of identity and distinctiveness, especially in Norfolk placenames. Their usage delineates Pitcairn blood heritage and ancestry (Norfolk: comefrom) as either Pitcairner or non-Pitcairner, and has been expanded in and adapted to the new social and natural environment of Norfolk Island. The analysis draws on primary Norfolk placename data and compares it to secondary Pitcairn data.

Hide All

I thank Philip Baker for comments on an earlier draft and Ian Hancock for comments on a more recent version. Emil Mittag provided editorial assistance.

Hide All
Baker Philip, Bruyn Adrienne, Shrimpton Neville & Winer Lise. 1998. The texts of Samuel Augustus Mathews. In Baker Philip & Bruyn Adrienne (eds.), St Kitts and the Atlantic Creoles: The texts of Samuel Augustus Mathews in perspective, 547. London: Battlebridge.
Baker Philip & Huber Magnus. 2001. Atlantic, Pacific, and world-wide features in English-lexicon contact languages. English World-Wide 22 (2), 157208.
Baker Philip & Mühlhäusler Peter. 2013. The Creole legacy of a bounteous mutineer: Edward Young's Caribbean contribution to the language of Pitcairn and Norfolk Islands. Acta Linguistica Hafniensia 45 (2), 170–86.
Bruyn Adrienne & Shrimpton Neville. 1999. Word index in Mathews’ text. In Baker Philip & Bruyn Adrienne (eds.), St Kitts and the Atlantic Creoles: The texts of Samuel Augustus Mathews in perspective, 419–30. London: Battlebridge.
Cassidy F. G. & Le Page R. B.. [1967]1980. Dictionary of Jamaican English, 2nd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Edgecombe Jean. 1991. Norfolk Island – South Pacific: Island of history and many delights. Thornleigh, NSW: the author.
Evans D. 2005. Pitcairn Island (map). The author.
Gathercole P. 1964. Preliminary report on archaeological fieldwork on Pitcairn Island, January–March, 1964. Manuscript. Hocken Library, Dunedin.
Götesson L-Å. 2012. Fishes of the Pitcairn Islands, including local names and fishing methods. Visby, Sweden: Book-on-Demand.
Hancock Ian F. 1971. A survey of the pidgins and creoles of the world. In Hymes Dell (ed.), Pidginization and creolization of languages, 509–23. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hancock Ian F. forthcoming. Review of Mühlhäusler & Nash (2012) Norfolk Island: History, people, environment, language, to appear in Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages.
Murphy Elaine. 1991. Antiguan dialect. St Johns: Bennjies Printery.
Nash Joshua. 2013. Insular toponymies: Place-naming on Norfolk Island, South Pacific and Dudley Peninsula, Kangaroo Island. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Nash Joshua. 2014. Obtuse anglers: Fishing ground names and the linguistics and ethnography of fishing on Norfolk Island. In Clark Ian D., Hercus Luise & Kostanski Laura (eds.), Indigenous and minority place names: Australian and international perspectives, 305–23. Canberra: ANU E-Press.
Palmer Nobbs B. 1986. A dictionary of Norfolk words and usages: Plus English–Norfolk appendix. Norfolk Island: Photopress International.
Reinecke John E., Tsuzaki Stanley M., DeCamp David, Hancock Ian F. & Wood Richard E.. 1975. A bibliography of pidgin and creole linguistics. Honolulu: The University Press of Hawaii.
Ross A. S. C. 1958. Notes on some ‘pristine’ place-names of Pitcairn Island. In Cortés Vázquez Luis, Blanco Manuel García & Tovar Antonio (eds.), Fifth International Congress of Toponymy and Anthroponymy: Proceedings and transactions (Acta Salmanticensia: Filosofia y Letras 11: 1-2), 333–7. Salamanca: Acta Salmanticensia.
Ross A. S. C. & Moverley A. W. (eds.). 1964. The Pitcairnese language, with contributions by Schubert E., Alaric Maude H. E., Flint E. H. & Gimson A. C.. London: André Deutsch.
Whittaker Morlene. 1990. Local proverbs and their meanings. Heritage 2 (1), 6. Basseterre: St Christopher Heritage Society.
Winer Lise. 1993. Trinidad and Tobago (Varieties of English around the World, T6). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

English Language & Linguistics
  • ISSN: 1360-6743
  • EISSN: 1469-4379
  • URL: /core/journals/english-language-and-linguistics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 22 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 227 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 7th March 2017 - 18th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.