“An indigenous language is one that is native to a region and spoken by indigenous peoples. This language would be from a linguistically distinct community that has been settled in the area for many generations. Indigenous languages may not be national languages, or may have fallen out of use, because of language deaths caused by colonization, where the original language is replaced by that of the colonists.” (Definition adapted from Wikipedia.)
But cast your eyes across to the other side of the world to little Norfolk Island in the southern Pacific Ocean. As a result of settlers who arrived from Pitcairn Island (which has been in the news for the wrong reasons over the last couple of years), some of the population speak Norfuk (or Norfolk), an amalgam of English and Tahitian. About half the 2000 islanders speak Norfuk, and it featured on the Telegraph’s daily podcast earlier this week.
Watawieh! All yorlye gwen?
(Hello! How are you all?)
While part of Australia, Norfolk keeps a distinct flag, national anthem, and even stamps passports (including Australian ones) on the way into their territory.
As organisations across Northern Ireland work to boost the understanding and appreciation for Ulster Scots and Irish, Norfolk islanders have been fighting to preserve their disappearing language. It’s now being taught in school to the island’s 300 children, and the UN will be including it in the next edition of Unesco’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger of Disappearing.
Norfolk government spokesman, Peter Maywald says:
“It’s now undergoing a renaissance. People are more interested in their culture and historical roots than they were before.”
Some pages of the island’s newspaper are now translated from into Norfuk (from English) and there are even plans to build a cultural centre to showcase this unusual creole language.
And if you want to brush up on your Ulster Scots, check out A Kist O Wurds at 7pm each Saturday evening on Radio Ulster (starting back on 1 September). It's surprisingly accessible and fun!