For those interested, here are Terry Crowley's comments on this (Bislama and Tok Pisin) word, published in 1990 in Beach-la-Mar to Bislama: the emergence of a national language in Vanuatu, page 137:
- The Bislama word bensin 'petrol' must also be reconstructed as a pre-1885 item according to the criteria set out in Clark (1987), as it is attested also in Papua New Guinea Tok Pisin and Solomons Pijin. At first glance, it would appear that the German word Benzin 'petrol' represents a plausible source both phonologically and semantically for bensin in Melanesian Pidgin, though this would mean that it would need to have been introduced via the copra plantations of Samoa in the period 1878–85, which is the only place and time in which ni-Vanuatu ever came into contact with speakers of German. Mühlhäusler (personal communication) points out that German traders were fairly widely scattered around the Pacific, providing a possible point of contact for the incorporation of this word into nineteenth-century Beach-la-Mar. However, bensin is not necessarily of German origin. Although 'benzene' is used in only a technical sense in modern English, in the 1860s and 1870s it was widely used to refer to a liquid used as a stain-remover and for cleaning work gloves (OED). The word 'petrol' in English referring to motor fuel dates from only 1805, […]
- The copra plantations of Samoa in the period 1878–85 weren't operated by native speakers of German, but by people from Hamburg, whose native language was Low German/Low Saxon/Platt. They might (as in: I assume, but don't know) speak (High) German in church.
- A more important point is that initially almost all languages used a cognate of de:Benzin for the fuel used in e.g. w:Otto engines, because the inventors of the engine(s) used that word. I think that means that using "the criteria set out in Clark (1987)" for bensin is somewhat daft. --188.8.131.52 01:40, 30 October 2012 (UTC)
- They would definitely have used High German in many ways, liturgy being just one. And anyways the word would still be from German only via Low German. Kolmiel (talk) 01:03, 8 October 2016 (UTC)
- Moreover, a middle-class person from Hamburg around 1880 would have had High German as their native language. (Of course, I don't from what class those copra planters were.) Kolmiel (talk) 01:08, 8 October 2016 (UTC)