Monday, November 30, 2009

the bird is more than the word

there are some posts that i just very excited about when the topic is something i learned that just blows my mind (papapa oo maomao). such is the case for how pidgin, the IM client that combines AIM, MSN, Yahoo, google talk, and others, got its name.
pidgin used to be called gaim, but changed its name because of licensing issues. i mistakenly thought it was named after pigeon, the bird, and never questioned why it had such a stupid (and misspelled) name. it is so obvious now, but it was not until a friend informed me casually that it is actually very cleverly named after a pidgin, which is a simplified language that is used between groups of people that speak differently languages natively (just like pidgin combines many chat protocols into one piece of software!)

pidgins usually form when two cultures do business with each other and need some rudimentary way to communicate. an example would be some rough spanglish (portmanteaus are everywhere!), or chinese pidgin english, which gives us the expressions "long time no see" and "no can do."

when a pidgin sticks and becomes the primary language of the next generation of a group of people (a process referred to as nativization) the more permanent language is called a creole language

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