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Facts About Papua New Guinea Language

papua new guinea language
(Last Updated On: February 6, 2024)

Diversity is a beautiful thing that should be celebrated, but unfortunately, many people choose to hate it. There are many reasons behind the fear of diversity some people have in their hearts, but one of them is ignorance. If people knew exactly how diverse our world is, they will have a hard time questioning this reality and start their journey towards acceptance. Even the smallest country will have diversity in some form. If it is not the presence of people of different skin colors, it is the existence of various kinds of animals. In short, it is futile to deny diversity. For language lovers, linguistic diversity is quite beautiful and worth studying.

Papua New Guinea:

Although every country is diverse in some way, not all of them are happy with that. But if you wish to see the example of peaceful co-existence, you can turn towards Papua New Guinea, where the majority live in customary communities. These indigenous groups are completely different from each other in every way. They have their own lifestyle, which might sound outdated to a citizen of the modern world but has helped them in becoming self-sustainable. These groups are the most distinguishing feature of the Papua New Guinea society. They rely on farming as their primary source of survival. The constitution of the country protects the rights of these communities.

Papua New Guinea is the world’s most diverse country due to these groups. Interestingly, only 18% of the whole population lives in urban areas. The rest prefer to live near farmlands and mines so they can earn their livelihood easily. This is why mining is one of the most significant contributors to the country’s economy. But the diversity in this country does not end with the indigenous groups. It is home to over eight hundred vernaculars which adds many more layers to its diversity. In fact, some estimates suggest that it has more languages than any other country in the world. Currently, 12% of all the world’s tongues are spoken in this country.

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  • Is it dangerous in Papua New Guinea?

    Papua New Guinea is a country in Oceania with beautiful beaches. However, visiting the country is not ideal because of the crime rate. The law and order situation can be a serious threat to travelers. Violent crimes including carjacking and sexual assaults are pretty common. The situation is even worse in the urban areas.

  • Is Papua New Guinea in Africa?

    Papua New Guinea is located north of Australia in Oceania. It is not in Africa. It is the third largest island country in the world. It is known for its cultural and linguistic diversity. More than eight hundred languages are spoken in the country, some of which have no known speakers today.

  • Who owns Papua New Guinea?

    Papua New Guinea was under Australian administration until 1975. The Australian rule started during World War I. After getting independence from Australia, Papua New Guinea became an independent commonwealth realm. Today, it is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and Elizabeth the Second is its queen.

  • Is New Guinea part of Australia or Asia?

    New Guinea is an island in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It is not in Asia, but it is not exactly a part of Australia either. It is separated from the Australian continent by 150km wide Torres Strait. However, Australia is the closest continent to the island. New Guinea is surrounded by various small islands.

  • What is the main language of Papua New Guinea?

    Papua New Guinea is the most linguistically diverse country in the world. 851 indigenous languages are spoken in the country. English, Hiri Motu, PNG Sign Language, and Tok Pisin are officially recognized languages of Papua New Guinea. Tok Pisin is the lingua franca of the country. However, in the southern region, Hiri Motu is spoken instead of Tok Pisin.

  • Why does Papua New Guinea have so many languages?

    In the past couple of centuries, people from different parts of the world have migrated to Papua New Guinea and settled down there for good. Europeans and Japanese arrived to the country in great numbers during the 19th century. This is the biggest reason as to why Papua New Guinea have so many languages.

  • How many languages do they speak in Papua New Guinea?

    Papua New Guinea is known for its biodiversity, cultures, and languages. 851 indigenous languages are spoken in the country. But some of them don’t have native speakers anymore while others are quickly losing speakers. However, many ethnic groups continue to use their indigenous language in their daily lives, which is why PNG has maintained its linguistic diversity.

  • Which province in PNG has the highest number of languages?

    Papua New Guinea is a country in the Oceania. It has been divided into twenty-two provinces for administrative purposes. The province of the country which has the highest number of languages is Madang. 165 languages are spoken in the province. In contrast, the province of Western Highlands only has three languages.

Facts About Papua New Guinea Languages:

The fascinating country where 851 languages are spoken is heaven for linguistic experts. However, like some communities of indigenous people, there are plenty of undiscovered languages in the country. This is why not a lot is known about the vernaculars that are not popular outside of their groups. But this doesn’t mean we don’t know anything about the vernaculars spoken in this country. Here are some facts about the languages that are spoken in Papua New Guinea:

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  1. English and German Influence:

English is the country’s official language, and for thirty years, the northern half was a German colony. This is why you will find plenty of vernaculars in the country with a clear influence of English and German. There are also English and German-based creoles in Papua New Guinea. Although German influence on some vernaculars is evident, it is not a popular tongue in the country anymore. English, on the other hand, is still quite popular. In 2011, nearly 50% of the population was literate in English. It is also because the population is educated overall too. With schools and universities focusing on English, the language was bound to become popular in the country.

  1. English-Based Creole:

The most popular tongue in the country is an English-based creole. It is also officially recognized at the state level. It is called Tok Pisin and is spoken by 58% of the population. But since it is comparatively a new vernacular, it is not common among older people. It is expected to become the most prominent tongue in the country as more people are learning it every day. A lot of children are learning it as their first language, which is why it is expected to become more influential in the future.

  1. Decreasing Use:

Although it is impossible to obtain detailed data about all the vernaculars spoken in Papua New Guinea, it is obvious that a lot of previously loved tongues are losing their importance. Hiri Motu, is one example of that. There was a time when it was the lingua franca of a region, but lately, its use has been rapidly decreasing. People have found a better option in the face of Tok Pisin, and they want it to become a part of their identity.

  1. Indigenous Languages:

Although not a lot is known about these vernaculars, one thing is for sure; they are not going to go out of use anytime soon. Even the ones with a thousand or two speakers have managed to survive easily. The credit goes to the close-knit communities that continue to follow their principals. They don’t interact with the outside world, which has allowed them to keep their vernaculars pure. It is not possible for the world to stay up-to-date about the indigenous tongues of Papua New Guinea. Most of these vernaculars have not even been studied properly.

As Papua New Guinea remains one of the least explored states in the world, the question looms over our heads whether we should leave it be or try to learn more about it. As for language-lovers, it is enough to know that the vernaculars of this country are not going to become extinct any time soon. They can also study the data released by the government to learn all there is to know about these vernaculars. Hopefully, we will get to learn more about the diversity of this country in the future and how it influences society.

Islands of Culture & Nature

Papua New Guineans, residing across a sprawling landscape of over 462,840 square kilometers that encompasses both the mainland and numerous offshore islands in the Pacific, are united by a rich tapestry of native languages, including a significant number of Austronesian languages. This Pacific island nation is renowned for its diverse natural resources, particularly in its lush coastal regions, where the cultivation of sweet potato has long been a staple of local diets.

Despite the myriad of languages spoken, efforts to promote a common language have facilitated communication and cultural exchange among the various communities. The blend of languages and traditions, set against the backdrop of the country’s vast natural wealth, underscores the unique identity and resilience of Papua New Guineans.

The Solomon Islands, a serene archipelago nestled in the Pacific, shares close geographical and cultural ties with its neighbors, including Bougainville Island, an autonomous region renowned for its vibrant traditions and Milne Bay’s breathtaking landscapes. Amidst these connections, the Solomon Islands maintain a unique identity, with Charles III acknowledged as the monarch, represented locally by a governor-general, and governed by a prime minister who leads the nation’s parliamentary democracy. To its west, the struggle for recognition in West Papua echoes the region’s broader aspirations for autonomy, where Papuan languages weave a complex tapestry of indigenous heritage.

Similarly, East Timor’s journey towards sovereignty and the Southern Highlands’ rich cultural expressions reflect the diverse challenges and achievements of Pacific Island nations, highlighting a shared history of resilience and the pursuit of self-determination.

Cultural Weave of Highlands

In the Eastern Highlands, the complex interplay of culture, politics, and history is evident against the backdrop of the region’s status within a constitutional monarchy. This area, along with its neighboring Indonesian province, showcases the rich linguistic diversity of the Austronesian family, a topic that has attracted scholarly attention from institutions like the Australian National University. The shift from traditional governance to civil administration in places like Irian Jaya (now known as Papua) reflects the broader historical narrative of the region’s administrative union and subsequent changes.

The presence of Australian troops during various periods highlights the international dimensions of these transitions, marking significant moments in the Eastern Highlands’ journey through the 20th century and its evolving political landscape.

The vibrant coral reefs that fringe the Admiralty Island, Trobriand Islands, and the shores of East New Britain Province serve as a stunning testament to the natural beauty of the region, home to diverse Austronesian-speaking peoples. These islands, nestled within the central ranges that stretch across the landscape, not only boast rich marine ecosystems but also a linguistic diversity that includes several language families, notably the Trans-New Guinea phylum. This rich tapestry of languages, each measuring the cultural depth of its people in cubic meters of shared history and tradition, contributes to the unique identity of the region.

Amidst this backdrop of natural and cultural wealth, the role of chief justice in these communities underscores the importance of maintaining order and justice, ensuring the preservation of both the environment and the heritage of its people.

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