Tok Pisin


A language of Papua New Guinea

Alternate Names
Melanesian English, Neomelanesian, New Guinea Pidgin English, Pidgin, Pisin

122,000 (2004 SIL). 50,000 monolinguals. L2 users: 4,000,000.


Mainly north half of country, well established in Port Moresby, into other regions.

Language Status

1 (National). De facto language of national identity.


Dialect differences between lowlands, highlands, and islands. Highlands lexicon has more English [eng] influence (Holm, 1989).

Language Use

L1 of some people in mixed urban areas. Used between speakers of different languages. Most frequently used language in Parliament and commerce. Where it is L1, it is passed on to children by parents. All domains. All ages. Positive attitudes.

Language Development
Literacy rate in L2: 40%–45%. Newspapers. New media. Radio programs. TV. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible: 1989.

Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Christian, traditional religion.