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    Sunday, February 18, 2018-8:43:30A.M.






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Chamorro/Carolinian language commission now accepting nominations for new members

THE Chamorro/Carolinian Language Policy Commission needs new members.

“We are working collaboratively with the Indigenous Affairs Office, the Carolinian Affairs Office and the Public School System to revive the commission. Once we get the names of possible nominees we will forward them to Gov. Ralph Torres for action,” Cindy Reyes, executive director of the language commission, said.

She said the terms of the language commission’s previous members have expired.

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In photo are Jonas Barcinas, Public School System Chamorro and Carolinian Language and Heritage Studies program manager; John Tagabuel; Carolinian Affairs Office executive assistant; Cindy Reyes, executive director of the Chamorro/Carolinian Language Policy Commission; Roman Tudela Jr., Indigenous Affairs Office resident executive; and Cris Ogo, Indigenous Affairs Office program manager.  Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

The commission is mandated to conduct a study on the languages and cultures of the Chamorros and Carolinians in the CNMI; the grammar and good usage for the two indigenous languages; prepare a modern and up-to-date Chamorro/Carolinian English Dictionary; represent the Northern Mariana Islands in meetings and conferences on matters dealing with languages; make recommendations to the Legislature on standard orthography to be used in schools; research both languages and provide library resources; and make recommendations to the Legislature on policies governing the use of both languages in the public and private sectors.

Reyes said the language commission aims to preserve and protect local culture.

Based on a survey conducted two years ago, she said the local languages are dying, adding that only 10 percent of the local people are speaking Chamorro and Carolinian.

“Many Chamorros and Carolinians are speaking English instead of our own language. The kids do not speak their own language, even at home,” she said.

Under Public Law 15-96, the commission will have eight members appointed by the governor. The members must be of Chamorro or Carolinian descent, proficient in one of the native languages.

According Jonas Barcinas, PSS Chamorro and Carolinian Language and Heritage Studies program manager, the commission is looking for individuals who are very proficient, knowledgeable and passionate about preserving, promoting and perpetuating the local languages and culture.

Barcinas said reviving the commission is vital for PSS.

The commission, he added, is supposed to certify an individual for language proficiency, and its absence is a barrier for a teacher who wants to apply at PSS.

“It’s a PSS mandate to teach the Chamorro and Carolinian languages. But a lot of our students are having difficulties understanding Chamorro and Carolinian at school because their first language is English,” Barcinas said.

According to Roman Tudela Jr., Indigenous Affairs Office resident executive, the revival of the commission will help his office and Carolinian Affairs accomplish their mission which is to perpetuate the native languages.

John Tagabuel, Carolinian Affairs Office executive assistant, said the commission also certifies official translators.

“We can speak well in our native tongues, but nobody is certified to do an official translation. I don’t have any background to say that I’m a certified translator. Who are we going to turn to when asked to certify such individuals?”