Marianas Variety

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    Monday, June 18, 2018-2:09:56P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Our islands, our language, our culture

AN Auckland University research published in Jan. 2009 suggested that most of Pacific population originated in Taiwan around 5,200 years ago.

The Austronesian language family is one of the largest in the world, with 1,200 languages spread across the Pacific, said Professor Russell Gray of the University of Auckland’s Department of Psychology.

The settlement of the Pacific is one of the most remarkable prehistoric human population expansions, he added.

After studying the basic vocabulary from these languages, such as words for animals, simple verbs, colors and numbers, researchers traced how these languages evolved.

Relationships between these languages give a detailed history of Pacific settlement including seven languages in the Micronesian.

The nuclear Micronesian languages include Marshallese, Gilbertese, Chuukese, Pohnpeian, Kosraean, Carolinean and Ulithian. Two more languages of Micronesia that belong to the Polynesian group are Nukuoro and Kapingamarangi.

Two languages spoken in Micronesia appear to be most closely related to the Western, or Indonesian, branch of the Austronesian languages — Chamorro, closely similar to the languages of the Philippines; and Palauan, the affinities of which are less certain but clearly Indonesian, according to Carlos Everett Conan of the University of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Islanders interviewed by this writer believe that children on Saipan and other Micronesian islands are “losing” their native language and culture.

Instead of learning their traditions, island children seem “distracted” by other cultures and languages.

Living in a multi-ethnic community, children can also learn different social, psychological and linguistic perspectives about their own culture.

Mike Byram of Dunham University in England said culture is defined shared beliefs, values, and behaviors of a social group. He said language is a tool for exchange of information and also a symbolic system with power to create and shape symbolic realities such as values and perception and identities through discourse.

Culture and language are the way people share their group’s values, realities and behavior.

According to Beverly Otto, author of “Language Development in Early Childhood,” language socialization patterns may differ from those favored in the school classroom in the following ways: the amount of talk directed to preschool children; the participation of young children as conversation partners with adults; opportunities children have to explain or give a personal interpretation of events; the types of questions asked of children during storybook sharing; and the forms of narrative that are used (e.g., fiction, nonfiction, or ongoing narratives).

Parents must learn the tools that can help their children learn and speak their local language.