Language and culture in the Pacific

Course code LING3430Units 10Level 3000Faculty of Education and ArtsSchool of Humanities and Social Science

The course investigates the role, nature and status of language in the Pacific. It gives a basic understanding of the distribution and structure of the Indigenous languages of the south-western Pacific, focusing particularly on New Guinea, and on Australia's Pacific Island neighbours, along with their pidgins and creoles. It examines what language tells us about the region's cultures and its prehistory, investigates the causes and nature of language endangerment and death, and considers what the future holds for the Indigenous languages of the region.

Not available in 2015

ObjectivesUpon successful completion of this course, students will be able to demonstrate:
1. an understanding of the basic structural features and distribution of the Indigenous languages of the Pacific, particularly those of the south-western Pacific;
2. an understanding of the basic structural features and distribution of the pidgins and creoles of the Pacific, particularly those of the south-western Pacific;
3. an awareness of the Indigenous cultural diversity of the south-western Pacific region as revealed in the region's languages;
4. an awareness of the causes and nature of language endangerment and language death in the region;
5. an understanding of the role of language in reconstructing the regions prehistory;
6. research and general information literacy skills.
ContentThe course investigates Indigenous and vernacular languages and culture in the Pacific, particularly those of the south-western Pacific, with emphasis on the following areas:

1. The distribution of Indigenous languages of the region, and the relationships between them.
2. The distribution of and relationships between the region's pidgins and creoles.
3. The basic structural characteristics of the languages of the region.
4. The basic structural characteristics of the region's pidgins and creoles.
5. The relationship between language and culture in the region, focusing on the linguistic expression of aspects of Indigenous cultures and conceptualisations that include kinship, colour, traditional technology, and the relationship between people and their physical spatial environment.
6. The role of Indigenous languages in understanding the region's prehistory, including the prehistory of its cultures and technology, along with ancient migration patterns and the spread of human populations in the region.
7. The cause of language endangerment and language death in the region.
8. The status of Indigenous languages in the countries of the region.
9. The future of the region's Indigenous languages in the 21st century.
Replacing Course(s)na
TransitionNot Applicable
Industrial Experience0
Assumed Knowledge10 units in linguistics at 1000 level
Modes of DeliveryFlexible Delivery / Student Centred Learning
Internal Mode
Teaching MethodsLecture
Assessment Items
Examination: Class2 x in class test (1000 words each) 15% each
Essays / Written AssignmentsAssignment (project proposal) with class presentation (1000 words) 20%
Research project (2000 words) 50%
Contact HoursLecture: for 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term