North Sea Fisherman Patois

Interesting quote from the Free Republic:

I used to work with a Dutch guy who said that he was at some sort of North Sea confab, and when people spoke in their national languages they couldn’t understand one another but when they spoke their local dialects, they found them mutually intelligible. Who knows?

I have heard this before. A fisherman who lived in Heikendorf on the Eastern coast of Germany on the border between Schleswig and Holstein said that when he spoke his particular North Low Saxon dialect to any fisherman in the North Sea region, they could all understand it.
It was as if all of the fisherman, and only the fishermen, of the North Sea, all spoke a common language (in Linguistics we often call this a “jargon”) that they could all understand. The fishermen must have been from northern Germany, western Denmark, southern Norway, northern Netherlands, northern Belgium and the east coast of England and Scotland.
Far northern Low German looks like Danish, English and Dutch. Flemish, a Dutch language, is spoken in coastal Belgium. Frisian is close to English, Low German, Scots and Danish and is spoken on the Netherlands coast. Dialects of southern Norway look like Danish. Scots sounds similar to Frisian, English, Low German, and Danish. The English and Scots dialects of the eastern coast of the UK received major Scandinavian input. West Danish languages like Jutish look like Scots.
Somehow, all those fishermen just learned to talk to each other. Why? Maybe because they had to.
Jargons are interesting. We call them trade languages in Linguistics.
Chinook Jargon is a famous one. This was a mixed language made up of I think English, French and many Indian languages that was spoken by White and Indian traders in the Pacific Northwest.
Jargons seem to be full-fledged languages, unlike pidgins, which really are just poor excuses for languages. The reason for this is that the jargons are made up of the first languages of many speakers and pidgins are based on the inferior second language acquisition of adult language learners, who never really get the language right. I will discuss pidgins and hopefully creoles and koines in another post.

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