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Posts Tagged ‘kanaks

[MUSIC] Five music links: music videos, Yes Yes Y’All, 1970s Britain, New Caledonia, immigration

  • Noisey interviews Ryann Donnelly on the importance of the music video as a sexually revolutionary art form.
  • NOW Toronto celebrates the tenth anniversary of queer Caribbean dance party Yes Yes Y’All.
  • JSTOR Daily looks at how, in 1970s Britain, pop music was often anything but apolitical.
  • The Conversation shared this article taking a look at the important role of protest music among the independence camp in New Caledonia.
  • At Inter Press Service, A.D. Mackenzie wrote about an interesting exhibit at the Musée de l’histoire de l’immigration in Paris on the contributions made by immigrants to popular music in Britain and France from the 1960s to the 1980s.

[LINK] “Talking in tongues: New Caledonia promotes Kanak languages”

Nic Maclellan’s Islands Business article takes an extended look at the situation facing the languages of the Kanaks of New Caledonia, the minority indigenous population of the autonomous French-ruled Melanesian polity of New Caledonia. Many of the smaller languages are threatened by shift, whether to more widely spoken Melanesian languages or to French.

The Pacific Ocean is home to almost 20 percent of the world’s languages, especially with the great diversity of indigenous languages across Melanesia. In New Caledonia, there are twenty-eight Kanak languages, eleven dialects and one creole (Tayo), with an estimated 70,000 speakers from a total population of 254,000. For the director of the Academy of Kanak Languages, Weniko Ihage, this diversity is an asset for society. “There’s a panoply of 28 Kanak languages, each of them very different from the other,” Ihage told Islands Business at his office in Noumea.

“Most Kanak languages exist only in spoken form, so the mission of the ALK is to establish rules of usage and to help promote and develop all Kanak languages and dialects.”

While there are thousands of people fluent in four or five of the major Kanak languages, other smaller languages and dialects are endangered.

Colonisation has disrupted the transmission of language between generations and today many parents value fluency in French for their children, as a pre-requisite for advancement, jobs and higher education.

“The number of speakers varies from one island to another, from one area to another,” Ihage says. “There are four main languages: Drehu spoken on Lifou; Nengone spoken on Mare; Paicî around the town of Poindimie; and Ajië, which is spoken in the Houailou region.

“These four languages have the largest number of speakers, they’re also the languages taught in school, which senior students can study at the level of the baccalaureate, just as they might study other regional languages in France like Breton or Corsican.” The usage of Kanak languages is tied to official French attitudes to cultural policy. As France joined the European Union in 1992, Article 2 of the French Constitution was changed to state for the first time that “the language of the Republic is French.”

France puts significant resources into promoting the French language through its education system, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) and institutions like the Alliance Française.

For colonised people within the French empire, however, the use of their own language is tied to broader questions of identity, culture and sovereignty.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 27, 2013 at 7:27 pm