January 16, 2018
Maori language revival plans failing – Moon
The guardians of te reo Maori have been challenged to stop being precious and to give the language a reason for surviving.
In a new book, historian Paul Moon from Auckland University of Technology claims Maori is facing extinction as a living language, and many of the initiatives aimed at saving the language are having the opposite effect.
He takes aim at an insistence on correct pronunciation, which he says puts people off trying.
He’s also sceptical of compulsory Maori in schools.
Professor Moon says many of the ideas promoted to revitalise te reo Maori “show a lack of rudimentary understanding of how languages survive or die. Most are ill-conceived, and all ultimately fail.”
His recipe is putting more resources into kohanga and kura so there is a continuous flow of new people capable of speaking the language.
Beyond that there needs to be incentives, such as tagging a percentage of public sector jobs to being able to speak the language.
“Te reo Maori is reaching the point where it may disappear as a living language in just one generation. A completely new approach is needed if there is to be any chance of saving it. If we continue on the current course, however, te reo Maori will cease as a living language,” he says.
Killing Te Reo Maori: An Indigenous Language Facing Extinction is published by Campus Press and is available from Unity Books.
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