Vanuatu’s Historic Policies to Preserve Language

Continuing from last week’s post- the Vanuatu Daily Post ran an article written by Adorina Massing about how, for the first time ever, Vanuatu has designed and implemented two Language Policies – The National Language Policy of the Republic of Vanuatu and the Language Policy of the Language Services Department. The aim of these policies are to regulate the use of the country’s native languages, to protect, promote and preserve them without neglecting any. 

Language is a crucial part of one’s existence, this is why it is important to preserve the mother tongue for the sake of safeguarding cultural identity. 

During a launching ceremony held yesterday at the Prime Minister’s Office, Prime Minister Bob Loughman formally launched the two documents. “Our nation has three official languages: English, French and Bislama and over a hundred native languages, which is a part of our national heritage,” he remarked in his speech. “These facts prove that our country is not bilingual but ‘Multilingual’ since a high number of citizens can speak more than two languages.”

PM Loughman said there are two reasons why the country’s vernacular languages are going extinct:

1. Many parents fail to teach their children their custom language and instead taught them Bislama. 

2. Many people are adding more foreign dialects to native languages. 

“For these reasons, the two Language Policies will be a great help in reviving our lost languages and in preserving our native mother tongue for our future generation.” 

Created in collaboration with the Department of Language Services, the National Language Policy of the Republic of Vanuatu will look at protecting, promoting and preserving all our native languages, while the Language Policy of the Language Services Department will look at how to address the increasing language services of delivery, through translation, interpretation, revision, terminology and language awareness. 

These two policies will help all the public and private institutions, as well as all the stakeholders to comply effectively with Articles 3(1), 3(2) and 64(1) of the Constitution.

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Parade in Port Vila, Vanuatu, Photo by ICAS

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