Thursday, August 23, 2007

All yorlye gwen? Let's speak Norfolk

Half the inhabitants of Norfolk Island are descended from the HMS Bounty mutineers
Norfolk Island's blend of 18th-century English and Tahitian, known as Norf'k or Norfuk, will be featured by Unesco in the next edition of its Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger of Disappearing.
The language, one of the world's rarest, is under threat because Norfolk Islanders are increasingly marrying outsiders and because of the influence of television and radio from neighbouring Australia and New Zealand.
The tiny subtropical island, which is part of Australia but maintains a fiercely separate identity, including a different flag and national anthem, is determined that the language should not become extinct.
Nursery rhymes and word games are used to teach the language to the 310 children in Norfolk's only school. In the past children were punished for speaking Norfuk, which was regarded as an embarrassingly backward patois.
The creole evolved between the Bounty mutineers and the Tahitians. After rebelling against Capt William Bligh, the mutineers settled in 1790 on Pitcairn Island. But by 1856 the island was over-crowded and the population was relocated to Norfolk. Today around half of Norfolk Island's 2,000 inhabitants are descended from the Pitcairners and speak Norfuk.Its broad burr evokes West Country English, but it is peppered with Tahitian and other Polynesian words incomprehensible to English speakers.
Norfolk Island was uninhabited when it was first sighted by Captain Cook in 1774, although it had previously been settled. Until 1855 it was used by the British as a South Seas gulag for the most recalcitrant convicts, notorious for its cruelty(...more>>>)

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