Language endangerment in the Sepik area of Papua New Guinea

Aikhenvald, Alexandra (2004) Language endangerment in the Sepik area of Papua New Guinea. In: Sakiyama, Osamu, and Endo, Fubito, (eds.) Lectures on Endangered Languages: 5. Endangered Languages of the Pacific Rim . ELPR, Kyoto, Japan, pp. 97-142.

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Abstract

The island of New Guinea is probably the most linguistically diverse and complex area in the world, with over 1,000 languages spoken over an area of 900,000 km2 (that is, one language every 900 km2: Foley 1986:8). Seventy-five percent of these languages belong to Non-Austronesian families often referred to as 'Papuan' (see Foley 1986:I-3; Dixon 1991a:245)^1. The state of Papua New Guinea (independent since 1975) features about 830 languages (Nekitel 1998; Ford ms; Landweer 2000), with the number of Papuan languages exceeding 600 (see Foley 1986: 1-3; Dixon 1991a: 245). Its official languages are English, Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu (also called Police Motu). Tok Pisin is currently the most important language spoken in most provinces. English is less dominant, but is widely gaining ground, especially in West Sepik (Sandaun) province, in Western province and a number of other Coastal provinces (see Sankoff 1980: 126w70). Hiri Motu is even more restricted (for instance, it is not known at all in either of the two Sepik provinces). Bi- and trilingualism in Tok Pisin and English is quickly expanding. According to materials in Sankoff (1980: 129-30), in 1971 the percentage of Papua New Guineans age ten and over who were unable to speak any of the official languages was 17.6% in East Sepik and 35.9% in Sandaun. Now the number of people with no knowledge of at least one official language would be negligible^2.

Item ID: 8901
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
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ISBN: 978-4-86159-116-7
ISSN: 1346-082X
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2010 05:47
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2004 Linguistics > 200407 Lexicography @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950201 Communication Across Languages and Culture @ 100%
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