Monday, July 23, 2012
Saving Maori Language?
The theme for Maori Language Week this year is: "cherish the language." The definition of cherish is to: hold dear : feel or show affection for : to keep or cultivate with care and affection.
If you lack the motivation or simply can't see any benefit from learning a geographically limited indigenous language, the government will attempt to reverse this widely held mindset by spending an estimated $250 million on Te Reo initiatives. Additional funding will be generously topped up by socially responsible councils.
A few corporate companies trying to cash-in on political-correctness and any entity that receives government funding will be out-bidding one another with Te Reo insertions....for a week.
Prepare for cultural-cringe as Government websites, television, radio and newspapers speak down to their audiences by giving primary school lessons as they regularly drop-in Te Reo catch-phrases.
Children along with their parents will be spending a lot of time on the internet answering Maori language worksheets from school. Selected households will be temporarily cluttered with Te Reo branded colour booklets, recyclable shopping bags, temporary tattoos, posters, pens, balloons, t-shirts and more that will be given away "free" to all and sundry.
So what are the outcomes since you and I started funding Te Reo initiatives? Well, the numbers of fluent speakers of Maori have plummeted from 70,000 in the 1970s to just 18,000 today.
So to recap, the government has spent millions to promote Maori language by intervention and coercion. Is it surprising that an unintended consequence is that the language has declined?
We hope for the sake of the Maori language that government and councils immediately withdraw funding to enable the free market to distribute resource more effectively to those that are self-motivated and truly cherish the language.