Pigeon English (or more correctly pidjin English), a language used in China between the natives and the English-speaking residents. Its origin is referable to the difficulty met by traders in communicating with the Chinese in their own tongue. A few simple words in English were more easily acquired by the Chinese than were their idioms and inflections by foreigners. These words, being accepted at certain values, formed the basis of pidjin English, and thereto have been added other expressions from, English as well as from Portuguese, Malay, Hindostanee, etc, the whole forming a dialect utterly beyond the scope of grammar and syntax, but available for everyday commercial and domestic transactions, and concreted into a distinct language. Many of the words are so changed in pronunciation as to be hardly recognizable. Pidjin is a corruption of the word business, so that pidjin English is really business English. Commission has become cumshaw, and from meaning a compensation for services rendered has come to mean a gratuity.
To a certain extent the dialect is a mere transference of words from English into Chinese, arranged syntactically according to the Chinese method. " Did you give the gentleman my letter?" would be rendered: " You have pay that massa my chit? " In this the word pay conveys the act of transference, massa (corruption of master) the gentleman, and chit (from the Hindostanee) the letter. The dialect is never written, and has a very silly sound, resembling mere baby talk, chiefly from the frequent double e terminations; yet it is the vernacular vehicle of the commercial transactions of China with the outer world, and it is taught in a few Chinese schools as forming part of the curriculum necessary for the embryo merchant. In other eastern countries residents generally aim at acquiring enough of the native language to serve their wants, although in Japan the language thus used is as far from pure Japanese as is the grotesque pidjin English from pure English. The vocabulary of pidjin English is extremely limited, one word doing duty for a great variety of purposes: the word pay, above mentioned, is one of these; walkee is used for nearly all forms of motion; sate for know, understand, etc.; talkee for say, talk, speak, tell, etc.
A characteristic pidjin English sentence is that in which a Chinese merchant expressed what seemed to him the necessity of painting eyes on the bows of vessels (a thing always done in China), he said: " No got eye, no can see; no can see, no can sabe; no can sabe, no can walkee".