A new research paper published by The Royal Society of New Zealand today makes the case for a new, stronger national languages policy. It details the role that languages play in international, national, social and personal development. With 160 languages spoken in New Zealand, and language learning not being compulsory in New Zealand schools, is it time to focus more on language learning? For instance, if you find a good place to take French lessons in Sydney, then its a great opportunity to start!
Dr Sharon Harvey, Head of the School of Language and Culture at AUT University outlined some of the issues:
“There are a number of increasingly urgent language issues in New Zealand such as: the uncertain trajectory of Te Reo Māori; the endangered languages of the New Zealand Pacific Realm; minimal recognition for community languages in the education system; and the paucity of support in New Zealand government departments for multilingual citizens, to name but a few. This paper helps us understand how we might address them and what the national picture looks like.”
A talk debating these points is due to be held tomorrow at Tamaki Paenga Hira
(Auckland War Memorial Museum). You can also read the full report here
If you’re a language fan in Perth, you might be interested in attending a show at Fringe World Festival, it’s called Chatterbox and the Proper Abuse of Language. Showing in the Sun House Tent at Perth Cultural Centre from Monday 28th January – Wednesday 13th February, this comical theatre performance promises to deliver a “humorous analysis of why and how we make blunders in basic communication.” But if you want to really start learning more about languages, you can start by taking German lessons in Gold Coast!
Tickets are available here.
Students in Queensland are in for a treat – Brisbane International Film Festival is on it’s way!
CineSparks – the festival for young people, with the aim of getting more Australian school students interested in learning another language – will run from 15-20th October.
The program includes films in 8 different languages – Russian, Hebrew, Arabic, Hindi, Afghan Persian, German, French, and Swedish – as well as English.
The line up includes Simple Simon, which was Sweden’s entry for this year’s Academy Awards; The Mirror Never Lies, which will of particular interest to students studying the Indonesian language, and Skateistan: Four Wheels and a Board in Kabul, which is in English and Persian and is a documentary with Australian links – it follows Australian aid workers who set up Afghanistan’s first skate school.
Watch the trailer for The Mirror Never Lies below.
Tickets are $5 and are available here.
Yaygirr, an aboriginal language previously considered extinct, has been documented in a new dictionary and grammar guide which elders hope will revive the language.
The Muurrbay Aboriginal Language Centre in New South Wales has been working with Yaegl elders for six years, documenting and researching the language. The book includes a comprehensive listing of almost 100o words with recommended spelling and phonetic assistance, as well as a guide to the grammar.
Yaegl man and TAFE teacher David Prosser would like to see language classes at the North Coast TAFE Maclean campus, and develop students into teachers so the language is passed on and continues.
Listen to Yaygirr here.
The Endangered Languages Project was launched today. The project is a collaboration between Google and the Indigenous Language Institute, as well as other members of the Alliance for Linguistic Diversity, and aims to provide an online resource to preserve endangered languages through sharing and allowing users to upload text and audio or video clips.
You can do your part to ensure your language is preserved by visiting the website for the project, www.endangeredlanguages.com, which has a map on its landing page with markers on each country for each endangered language. The UK, for example, has Polari listed, which is not a language in itself, but a form of slang used within English. New Zealand has only Maori listed as endangered. Australia, meanwhile, has a lot of red hotspots for endangered languages. When you click on a spot, the name of the language pops up, and when you click on this, you are taken to the homepage of that language, where you can submit and share documents and samples of the language.
A recent Sunday Star-Times reader poll suggested readers were pretty much equally divided on whether the money spent on preserving te reo Maori is worth it.
Professor Kenneth Rehg, an associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Hawai’i, was in New Zealand recently to speak about the death of languages at Victoria University. He said that his students look up to New Zealand’s efforts to preserve te reo, and that ambivalence is a worldwide issue when dealing with indigenous languages. He thinks that many people don’t acknowledge the obvious benefits of different languages.
“You see the same thing in many places where indigenous people and cultures have been run over. There is an unfortunate attitude from people coming from dominant cultures that they have nothing to learn from indigenous societies. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Source: Fairfax NZ News
A community in New South Wales is hoping to revive the local Aboriginal language. Menindee Central School, situated in the Kinchega National Park, is offering an 18 month course in Paakantji aimed at adults. The school has taught the language for four years. The main aim of the program is to get it accredited, so that graduate students can teach others and keep the language alive.
The United Nations HQ in New York celebrated Chinese Language Day on Thursday (April 20th) with a series of special events. The day has been celebrated since 2010, and the April date was selected from Guyu to honour Cangjie, the legendary figure in Ancient China credited with inventing Chinese characters 5000 years ago.
The day featured displays of traditional Chinese dancing, musical performances, art exhibits and a demonstration by the Chinese Health Qigong Association.
The UN Department of Public Information (DPI) introduced language days in 2010 to celebrate each of it’s official languages and to encourage cultural diversity. Chinese is one of the six official languages of the UN, along with Arabic, Russian, French, Spanish and English.
The other official UN Language Days were selected for their historical importance connected with each language:
- French (20 March – International Day of Francophonie)
- English (23 April – William Shakespeare’s birthday)
- Russian (6 June – Alexander Pushkin’s birthday)
- Spanish (12 October – Dia de la Hispanidad)
- Arabic (18 December – the date the General Assembly designated Arabic as the sixth official language of the United Nations in 1973)
Maori TV are to re-launch a dedicated 100% te reo Maori channel, which is called Te Reo. From Monday 16 April, the channel’s weekday broadcast hours will be begin at 4.30pm, rather than 7pm, as it is at the moment. Te Reo’s weekend broadcast schedule will run from 7.00pm to 11.00pm.
The channel will primarily contain programming for children.
Korero Mai was the main language teaching programme to be aired on Maori TV, but the channel will be launching a new live daily Maori language show.
Te Reo is available only on digital and can be accessed via Freeview Satellite channel 24 and SKY channel 59.
Want to see your Twitter homepage in another language?
Twitter.com, with the help of 13,000 volunteers, has just launched in Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and Hebrew. Work started on the project on January 25th. This is the first time that Twitter has been available in right-to-left languages. Right-to-left languages previously caused problems, especially with tweets that contained both left to right and right to left content, and to overcome this problem, Twitter’s tech team have had to build special tools to make sure tweets, retweets, hashtags and numbers appear properly.
Twitter’s first foreign language launch was Japanese in April 2008. Although users have long been able to tweet in different languages, not all languages are supported on the homepage. You can now tweet in 28 different languages, with more planned additions this year.
You can file a language request if your language isn’t already supported on Twitter.
Twitter is currently looking for translators for nearly 20 languages. You can apply via Twitter’s Translation Center.