Call for Vanuatu to preserve its traditional languages

Vanuatu’s Prime Minister has called on the people of Vanuatu to speak and preserve their traditional languages.

Prime Minister Bob Loughman said people should strive to keep the country’s 113 different languages alive.

“Our nation has three official languages which are Bislama, English and French but we [also] have over one hundred traditional languages,” Mr Loughman said.

“We are so proud to have this huge diversity of languages in our country because it shows how strong the culture of Vanuatu is.

“My Government is trying to find ways to support the work that the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, the Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs and the Vanuatu Christian Council have been doing to preserve and promote the mother tongues of each island of Vanuatu.”

The President of the Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs, Willie Gray Plasua, says Vanuatu’s traditional or ‘custom languages’ are like “a rope that binds together our custom and tradition”.

Chief Plasua wants all parents to teach their children to speak their mother tongues.

“If a child does not know its mother tongue, that child does know his or her identity,” Chief Plasua said.

Prime Minister Loughman made his comments during the recent celebration of International Mother Language Day in Port Vila.

He says many of Vanuatu’s custom languages have been lost and others are now in the process of being lost.

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