Living in many languages: linguistic diversity and multilingualism in Papua New Guinea

Aikhenvald, Alexandra (2014) Living in many languages: linguistic diversity and multilingualism in Papua New Guinea. Language and Linguistics in Melanesia, 32 (2). I-XVII.

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Abstract

[Extract] 'Why was Babel transferred to Papua New Guinea?' a missionary 'cried in exasperation' (Frerichs and Frerichs 1969: 85). This sums up the reality of PNG: it is indeed one of the most linguistically diverse spots on earth. The state of Papua New Guinea features over 830 languages. Just about over two hundred languages belong to the Austronesian languages (one of the largest in the world). The number of non-Austronesian languages — known as 'Papuan' exceeds 600. Only about twenty percent of the population speak Austronesian languages. The term 'Papuan' is a short cut: it subsumes more than sixty language families which are not demonstrably related, and a fair number of isolates (not related to anything else). The approximate numbers of languages and their speakers are given in Table 1. The only language spoken by over 100,000 people is Enga (Engan family, EHP).

Item ID: 37334
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
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This paper was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Papua New Guinea Linguistic Society - celebrating Tok Pisin and Tok Ples, Madang, Papua New Guinea, 17-19 September 2014.

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ISSN: 0023-1959
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2015 23:07
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2004 Linguistics > 200408 Linguistic Structures (incl Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture @ 100%
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