When we talk about language, we often use different words to describe it. We say “indigenous language”, “vernacular language”, “official language”, “national language”, “first language”, “mother language”… That’s a lot of languages, don’t you agree? We are all familiar with these names, but do we know what they really mean? Are they one and the same thing? … More INDIGENOUS, VERNACULAR, OFFICIAL, NATIONAL
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
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?
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. And they are probably right. Anything with colours, lines, dots, or arrows just stays in our heads better. Now, I would love to explain to you the relationships between Pacific languages using a nicely created tree diagram, but – truthfully – I suck at this. So instead of drawing a graph here, I’ll tell you a story about two big linguistic families. … More THE DESCENDANTS
You would think that you don’t need a phrasebook if you have constant access to the Internet. You want to know how to say “Hello” in any given language, and your very cool uncle Google will always be there to help you. But imagine that one day you wake up in some faraway place (the remote islands of the Pacific, perhaps?) and your Internet connection no longer exists. What then? Then you might encounter a problem, unless you have a good old phrasebook as your companion. … More “SOUTH PACIFIC PHRASEBOOK” BY LONELY PLANET
You are not a Pacific Islander nor a person of Pacific descent. You are a foreigner (palagi, haole, ribelle, I-matang, kai valagi, etc.), who I presume likes studying languages and is interested in the beautiful islands of Oceania. I’m just taking a wild guess here, but – please tell me – am I even remotely close? I think I am – you are visiting this site, after all. … More WHY LEARN PACIFIC LANGUAGES? (FOR FOREIGNERS)
So you are a Pacific Islander or a person of Pacific descent. You speak English or French. Or both. Or maybe even Spanish, German, or Japanese. But you don’t really speak the language of your ancestors. You know a few words, you can form a sentence or two, but you are not fluent. Does this description sound familiar to you? Are you this person? If the answer is “yes”, read on. … More WHY LEARN PACIFIC LANGUAGES? (FOR PACIFIC ISLANDERS)
Have you ever wondered exactly how many languages are spoken in the Pacific region? I had been pondering over this for quite some time before I finally decided to do some research. And although I had always been somewhat aware of the Oceania’s linguistic richness, I was shocked/amazed/surprised by what I discovered. … More HOW MANY LANGUAGES ARE THERE IN THE PACIFIC?
Can you imagine a world where people speak the same language? Can you imagine yourself always understanding what foreigners say and being able to express your thoughts no matter where you are? Hold on a moment, I’m trying to form this picture in my mind… A world with one language. Convenient, that’s for sure. And scary as hell. Because what gives our little universe a distinctive flavor is a multitude of tongues. … More TOWER OF BABEL IN THE SOUTH SEAS