When you decide to learn an unpopular foreign language, you often hear various “pearls of wisdom” from you relatives, friends, colleagues. Rarely do they smile at you, give you a thumbs-up, pat you on the shoulder, and say: “Wow, that’s so cool!”. Their words are more discouraging than encouraging, and suddenly you get the feeling that what you are doing is … pointless. … More EVEN IF YOU HEAR ONE OF THESE, DO YOUR THING ANYWAY
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
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
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?
Pidgin and creole languages. You have heard about them, right? While the names sound familiar to most people, only some know what exactly hides behind these terms. In the Pacific, pidgins and creoles are present mainly in Melanesia, where they function as lingua franca. But how were they brought into existence in such a remote part of the world? … More NOBODY’S AND SOMEBODY’S NATIVE LANGUAGE IN MELANESIA