LW 13: Literacy and Translation in a Vanuatu Language

Artikel-Nr.: ISBN 9783895869730
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Literacy and Translation in a Vanuatu Language 

Terry Crowley
University of Waikato

Erromangan, an Oceanic language of southern Vanuatu, has a written literature that until recently was restricted exclusively to materials relating to recently introduced Christianity. This literature is entirely translated, with the materials written by European missionaries in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In many respects, these translations are structurally deviant to the point where intelligibility is sometimes impaired.

Massive population loss and major language shift on the island in the second half of the nineteenth century should has predisposed this language to massive simplification and homogenisation in the direction of English according to some scenarios, especially were literacy and Christianisation are involved. However, the remaining Erromangan language has remained vital, structurally complex and largely intact, demonstrating that the linguistic disruption posed by missionary-inspired literacy is nothing like as powerful as some have suggested.

ISBN 9783895869730. Languages of the World 13. 32 pp. 2000.

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