Fears over future of PNG's Motu language
There are fears that the Motu language, one of the official languages of Papua New Guinea, could be lost soon.
There are fears that the Motu language, one of the official languages of Papua New Guinea, could become extinct in 50 to 60 years.
A senior lecturer who specialises in Motu at the Divine Word University, Dr Sibona Kopi, says about 40 thousand people speak Motu, but he's afraid the number is rapidly declining.
He spoke with Leilani Momoisea about how many young Motuan people don't know basic Motu because they have become marginalised from main centres.
SIBONA KOPI: Because they are in the marginalisation situation, their language, our language, is dying, at a faster rate than some people may think. The development benefits do not really go to the people of Motu people. And the language, because they see, they see development in terms of language and that's why many young people today are not speaking Motu, they are speaking either the Pidgin or the English.
LEILANI MOMOISEA: You're afraid that this language is going to be extinct very soon?
SK: Yes, within 50 or 60 years.
LM: 50 or 60 years?
SK: Yeah, because the young people are not, say if I tell them, bring me 10 coconuts in my own language, Motu, they do not know what I mean. Our words are being substituted by English words, like cup for example. With Motu in spelling but the word is a European word. Cup, we say kapasi.
LM: So what are you wanting to see done about this?
SK: We are going to write dictionary and then after that we will shape up the schools where Motu will be one to teach our young our past. As well as recording of speech after speech to cassettes or some other modern technology, we will preserve them for future generations. As well as the Motu people will be encouraged to write stories in Motu. Study about the development, study about how fishing nets are made, how business is being done, how Motu vehicles are being repaired. So all that language will be changing into our own language, so that people instead of reading about it in English or Pidgin we are to use our own language to read.
LM: Because it is not just about language it's also about you lose your language, you lose your identity, do you think?
SK: Now well that would be effected when we are talking about languages building of identity, it is an essential part of culture. Once the culture is gone, we are gone. Because we have no identity.
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