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Facts About Papua New Guinea Language

Facts About Papua New Guinea Language
papua new guinea language

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 They have their own lifestyle, which might sound outdated to a citizen of the modern world but has helped them in becoming self-sustainable.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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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.

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