A grammar of Pichi

Kofi Yakpo  


Creole, Language contact, grammar, West Africa, Equatorial Guinea


Pichi is an Afro-Caribbean English-lexifier Creole spoken on the island of Bioko, Equatorial Guinea. It is an offshoot of 19th century Krio (Sierra Leone) and shares many characteristics with West African relatives like Nigerian Pidgin, Cameroon Pidgin, and Ghanaian Pidgin English, as well as with the English-lexifier creoles of the insular and continental Caribbean. This comprehensive description presents a detailed analysis of the grammar and phonology of Pichi. It also includes a collection of texts and wordlists. Pichi features a nominative-accusative alignment, SVO word order, adjective-noun order, prenominal determiners, and prepositions. The language has a seven-vowel system and twenty-two consonant phonemes. Pichi has a two-tone system with tonal minimal pairs, morphological tone, and tonal processes. The morphological structure is largely isolating. Pichi has a rich system of tense-aspect-mood marking, an indicative-subjunctive opposition, and a complex copular system with several suppletive forms. Many features align Pichi with the Atlantic-Congo languages spoken in the West African littoral zone. At the same time, characteristics like the prenominal position of adjectives and determiners show a typological overlap with its lexifier English, while extensive contact with Spanish has left an imprint on the lexicon and grammar as well.


  • Review in Linguistic Typology by Stefano Manfredi published January 6, 2021
    In conclusion, by combining insights from linguistic typology and contact linguistics, Yakpo provides us with a detailed synchronic description that substantially adds to our knowledge and understanding of Pichi as well as of other English-lexified creoles of West Africa. The grammar is easy to read and linguistic data are presented in a clear manner. The author illustrates his claims with numerous examples and informative tables that provide further empirical evidence. Framed in a functional-typological framework, the grammar covers a wide range of grammatical categories and furnishes a coherent source for their comparison with both creole and non-creole languages. Yakpo also convinces with his fine-grained style of analyzing Spanish-Pichi language contact. Though synchronically-oriented, the grammar is enriched by comparative notes that highlight the roles played by the English lexifier, the Spanish superstrate, and the heterogeneous African substrate/adstrate in the emergence of Pichi. All things considered, the author should be praised for his achievement, especially taking into account the choice to publish his grammar in the open-access and high-quality format provided by Language Science Press.


Author Biography

Kofi Yakpo

Kofi Yakpo is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Hong Kong. He has conducted and led research on the grammar, phonology, areal typology, and sociopolitical dynamics of contact languages with a focus on the English-lexifier creoles of Africa and the Americas, as well as the Asian diaspora languages of the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean.

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February 19, 2019
LaTeX source on GitHub
Cite as
Yakpo, Kofi. 2019. A grammar of Pichi. (Studies in Diversity Linguistics 23). Berlin: Language Science Press. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.2546450


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