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The social life of a language

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Abstract

The island of New Guinea is probably the most linguistically diverse and complex area in the world. The Sepik river basin displays cultural as well as linguistic diversity and fragmentation, perhaps more so than other areas of New Guinea. Many of the Sepik languages show signs of endangerment. Manambu, from the Ndu language family, is spoken by about 2500 people. Many Manambu children acquire Tok Pisin, the local lingua franca, as their first language, using it in their day-to-day communication. The paper shows that the value placed on the language by its speakers – and a number of cultural and economic trends in modern-day Papua New Guinea – are favourable to slowing down the process of impending language shift, and improving the perspectives for language survival. Keywords: Papua New Guinea multilingualism; Manambu survival; Tok Pisin; language ideologies, purism and retention

References

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