WHY SAVE ENDANGERED LANGUAGES?

Dying tongues. There are quite a few of them in the Pacific. So what? Why should anyone care? Does it really matter if a little-known language spoken by a tiny group of people in some island country no one has heard about goes out of existence? Is that such a tragedy? For most of the world, it is not. A fact of life, they will say. But for the affected communities, it is much more than just that. Isn’t that reason enough for us to bother? … More WHY SAVE ENDANGERED LANGUAGES?

ENDANGERED, ENDANGERED NOT

Over 200 languages from the Pacific region have officially been given endangered status by UNESCO. But Oceania is home to more than 1000 tongues. Does that mean that the rest of its languages are perfectly safe? That there is no need to worry they, too, may one day face the fate of extinction? In other words, are they endangered, or are they not? Well, that surely is the question. … More ENDANGERED, ENDANGERED NOT

“FIJIAN PHRASEBOOK & DICTIONARY” BY LONELY PLANET

So you’re going to Fiji. You’ve already packed your flip-flops, super-high SPF sunscreen, and snorkeling gear, because…well…that’s what you need in any South Pacific country. But do you know what else you may need? A little book that will help you communicate with the locals in their mother tongue. … More “FIJIAN PHRASEBOOK & DICTIONARY” BY LONELY PLANET

MARSHALLESE 7.0: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BOY AND A GIRL

I have a question for you: what’s the difference between a boy and a girl? And no, I’m not talking about the “obvious” things here. (We all are well aware of the fact that men are from Mars and women from Venus.) Any ideas? No? Let me give you an answer then. It may surprise you. Even shock you… There is almost no difference. At least in Marshallese. … More MARSHALLESE 7.0: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BOY AND A GIRL

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Kiribati, Tonga, Vanuatu, Tuvalu… Have you ever wondered how the islands of the Pacific got their names? And what do those names actually mean? Could Tokelau be known as Fiji, Niue as Palau, and Guam as Papua New Guinea? Shakespeare told us that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Would it, really? To answer these questions, I decided to do some research. … More WHAT’S IN A NAME?

MARSHALLESE 6.0: COULD YOU REPEAT, PLEASE?

Any language you don’t know sounds like a continuous stream of indistinct babble. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t understand the meaning of sentences you hear. But the minute you start learning a foreign tongue, everything changes. Or rather, everything should change. Because it’s not always as easy as you wish it were. … More MARSHALLESE 6.0: COULD YOU REPEAT, PLEASE?

“PIDGIN PHRASEBOOK & DICTIONARY” BY LONELY PLANET

Imagine: you’re visiting Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, or Papua New Guinea. You know you’re going to get by in any of those countries using only English or, in case of Vanuatu, French. But wouldn’t it be great if you could say a few words in the local lingo? Just think about it. And when you decide I’m right, here’s a book that may help you. … More “PIDGIN PHRASEBOOK & DICTIONARY” BY LONELY PLANET

SIBLINGS, COUSINS, OR DISTANT RELATIVES: HOW SIMILAR ARE PACIFIC LANGUAGES?

You already know that the native tongues of Oceania, and let me remind you that there are over 1100 of them, belong to two big language families. Add to this the creoles spoken in Melanesia and Hawaii, and…well…you have a pretty sizeable brood. But have you ever tried to ascertain the exact degree of relatedness between those languages? Which of them are siblings or cousins, and which are just distant relatives? It’s time to find out. … More SIBLINGS, COUSINS, OR DISTANT RELATIVES: HOW SIMILAR ARE PACIFIC LANGUAGES?