As an Australian visiting your shores I’m more and more impressed every day by how easy life is for me here. English is ingrained into the lives of the locals from a young age and it is rare for me to come across someone who doesn’t understand what I’m after.
Step back and think about it though and you can’t help but ask yourself, what is this doing to local dialects here in Fiji? The Fiji Times was talking about this very issue not that long ago. By August last year 19 of the 300 local dialects had died out as village elders passed away.
Wade Davis is a famous american Linguist, he studies languages and dialects from around the world. Davis tells us that around the world we speak 6000 different languages, every two weeks we lose another elder that is the last surviving native speaker of that language.
In Australia, I’m sad to say, we’ve lost many of our indigenous dialects. Before the arrive of white settlers in Australia there is believed to have been over 250 distinct languages being spoken. Today we see a situation where all except 13 of those languages are under extreme threat of extinction.
Australian National Indigenous Television Network has recently produced this online language training site. The hope is that a few people might learn a few indigenous words and maybe a few languages can hold on.
As wade Davis once put it
‘having a universal language that we all speak sounds pretty cool doesn’t it? How do you think it might sound though if your native language was one of the ones that disappeared?’
When you go home tonight make sure you spend as much time as possible talking to your kids in your native dialect.