|From October 8 to November 15, a Sorosoro team will be documenting Kanak languages in the field. Claire Moyse, linguist with the CNRS laboratory, LACITO (Langues et civilisations de tradition orale) is heading up the mission. With José Reynes, head cameraman, they will film three languages from Grande Terre, two of which are highly threatened with only several hundred remaining speakers. This mission is combined in partnership with the Ministry of Culture’s Direction Générale à la Langue Française et aux Langues de France (DGLFLF).|
Fourth Festival of Melanesian Arts
In September 2010, New Caledonia hosted the 4th Festival of Melanesian Arts. 800 participants from the five Melanesian countries will take part in the colorful, itinerant festivities.
The 5 archipelagos present are linguistic paradises for they are home to over 1,000 austronesian languages, out of the planet’s roughly 6,000 total languages.
The linguistic question is therefore a fundamental aspect of their culture and festival organizers are highly aware of this issue for they hosted on September 21 and 22, along with the Kanak Language Academy, a conference on Melanesian languages, with as guest speaker, Rozenn Milin,director of Sorosoro.
The Kanak Languages by Weniko Ihage
How did the Kanak Language Academy come into being?
The Kanak Language Academy (KLA) is a local, public establishment created in 2007; its roots stretch back to the Nouméa Accords of 1998.
What are its goals and missions?
Its missions as defined by law are “to establish rules of usage and to help promote and develop all Kanak languages and dialects.”
The majority of Kanak languages do not have a written form and those that do, had only a rudimentary one until very recently. Our first task is to standardize the written form for our languages.
More simply, there are 8 project leaders. Each works in one of the customary areas of the country and are supported by an array of “Academicians”. These Academicians are referent individuals who link local populations with a project leader according to an organization unique to the island. All the collected data is then analyzed by linguists in order to obtain a form of writing accepted by the speakers.
We also publish dictionaries, specific glossaries, collections of folk tales, and other books; as well as organizing conferences and other scientific endeavors.
How many Kanak languages are there in New Caledonia and how many speakers?
It is now commonly accepted that there are 28 Kanak languages. They belong to the austronesian family of languages, one of the 106 families of human languages. Austronesian languages range from Madagascar to Taiwan and from Easter Island to New Zealand.
It is difficult to state an exact number of speakers for it all depends on the data in question. The research laboratory CNRS/LACITO estimated 75,411 speakers, which included speakers who have remained within their tribes as well as those who no longer live there. Because there is a sharp decrease in speakers amongst the younger generations, these figures should probably be considerably lowered.
To stem this loss, it is important that the Kanak languages occupy a place in society in general and more specifically in the classroom. The Academy aims to participate in this task according to the goals it has been given.
Director of the Kanak Language Academy
|THE TRIMESTER’S KEY DATES|
October 10 – November 14: Sorosoro films in New Caledonia
October 20 in Bombay: First General Assembly of the Sorosoro Trust, Sorosoro’s subsidiary in India
November 15 and 16: conference of the Consortium on Training in Language Documentation and Conservation at the University of Tokyo, Rozenn Millin will give a talk on Sorosoro
December 8: Meeting of Sorosoro’s Scientific Committee in Paris