Tok Pisin courses start in Australia
Australian National University in Canberra is to offer a series of online language courses in Papua New Guinea’s official language, Tok Pisin. Tok Pisin language course developer Jenny Homerang, from the ANU’s College of Asia & the Pacific, describes the courses as groundbreaking.
“For a very long time, Tok Pisin was seen as a language that was not a real language; some consider it as broken English. I feel glad that ANU has actually taken up the challenge to run the course,” she told Paradise.
She says it will raise the profile of less commonly used languages.
“A lot of languages taught at the tertiary level are modern languages and the most popular ones are from Europe. So it is very important to understand that the less
taught languages have the same value as the modern languages.”
More than four million Papua New Guineans speak Tok Pisin, a creole that developed 120 years ago when Papua New Guineans, Solomon Islanders, New Caledonians and ni-Vanuatu were kidnapped to work in Queensland on sugar and cotton plantations. From Queensland, some Papua New Guineans went to Samoa and they brought back their brand of Tok Pisin to the German- owned plantations in the islands and coastal areas of PNG, says Homerang.
“It will be invaluable to government officials working in PNG, non-government organisation staff, researchers, business people, interested in going to PNG to work, and those who are interested in PNG and the Pacific,” she says.
“It will also allow people to keep up-to-date with Tok Pisin, which is always evolving.”
The first of four courses starts next year and will include online face-to-face sessions every week. ■
– KEVIN McQUILLAN