Linguist says scientists have a lot to learn from Pacific languages


Scientists have a lot to learn from Pacific languages, according to a linguist from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Peter Schuelke is in Solomon Islands this month as part of a study of the Roviana language from the Western Province.

Mr Schuelke said Roviana contained “typological uniqueness” that defied established linguistic theory.

He said he believed there was a real need to document and preserve languages in Solomon Islands and across the Pacific.

“Roviana appears to be unique however there has been very little investigation of the languages of the Pacific generally, for example if you take Papua New Guinea you have by some accounts 800 languages. Maybe 100 or less have been investigated to some extent seriously.

“Most of language science is based on a survey of about five percent of the world’s languages. There’s seven thousand languages, maybe two thousand of them in the Pacific.