Bonin English

Bonin English
Ogasawara English
Native to Japan
Region Bonin Islands
Native speakers
maybe 1,000–2,000 (date missing)
English Creole
  • Pacific

    • Bonin English
Language codes
ISO 639-3 None (mis)
Glottolog boni1239[1]

Bonin English, or the Bonin Islands language, is an English-based creole of the Bonin Islands south of Japan with strong Japanese influence, to the extent that it has been called a mixture of English and Japanese (Long 2007).


The Bonin Islands were first settled in the early nineteenth century by speakers of eighteen European and Austronesian languages, including American English. This resulted in a pidgin English that became a symbol of island identity. It creolized among second- and third-generation speakers as thousands of Japanese speakers settled the islands. The islanders became bilingual, and during the early twentieth century Bonin English incorporated elements of Japanese (Long 2007). Throughout the 20th century, most islanders used Bonin English at home. During the US occupation of 194668, the so-called "Navy Generation" learned American English at school. While Bonin English vocabulary skewed toward English during this period, a trend towards Japanese resumed after the occupation ended. Today younger residents tend to be monolingual in a variety of Japanese closely resembling the Tokyo standard. A bilingual spoken dictionary was published in 2005.


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Bonin English Pidgin". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  • Long, Daniel (2007). English on the Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-8223-6671-3. 
  • Long, Daniel; Naoyuki Hashimoto (2005). Talking Dictionary of the Bonin Islands Language (with CD-ROM). Nanpo Shinsha. ISBN 978-4-86124-044-7. 
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