Do you think that you have to know Tongan, Tahitian, Marshallese, Bislama, or some other Pacific language in order to get by in Oceania? Well, it surely is nice to be able to talk with the locals using their mother tongue, but in the Blue Continent it isn’t really necessary. If you can speak English or parles français, you will be just fine. … More DO YOU PARLES…? ENGLISH AND FRENCH IN THE PACIFIC
Oceania is one of the most linguistically diverse regions in the world. It comes as no surprise then that the vast majority of its inhabitants speak more than one language. But is the large number of indigenous tongues the sole reason for this? … More MULTILINGUALISM IN THE PACIFIC
Each year, on 21 February, we celebrate International Mother Language Day. Around this time we talk a lot about preserving minority and indigenous tongues. We promote, we encourage, we exchange ideas. But the truth is, one day to celebrate multilingualism is simply not enough. One day will not make a difference. One day will not save hundreds of disappearing languages. To merely try to do that, we need 365 days. … More MIND YOUR MOTHER TONGUE
What do you feel when you are in a country where you don’t speak the language? Most people say they feel insecure, vulnerable, uneasy, often frustrated and embarrassed. In short, they feel lost. Lost in translation. But why? What exactly makes us feel this particular way? … More LOST IN TRANSLATION ABROAD
Can endangered languages be saved if one dies every fourteen days? Quite honestly, I don’t have the faintest idea. But more knowledgeable people say, and I really believe them, that there are ways to preserve even the rarest of tongues. I know the cause is worth the fight. And I know that if we all put our shoulders to the wheel, we will succeed. … More HOW TO 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?
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
According to the United Nations, every two weeks one spoken tongue dies out. Fourteen days… Poof! Fourteen days… Poof! Fourteen days… Poof! They vanish; one after another. But this doesn’t happen just like that. Before a language disappears from the face of the earth, it usually shows signs of endangerment; it “makes the list”, so to speak. … More MAKING THE ENDANGERED LIST
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?
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?