WHAT IS LANGUAGE PLANNING?
Language carries with it information about who we are, how we
express ourselves and culture, and how we define the world around
Reo Māori underpins Māori cultural development which in turn, supports Māori social identity
and culture, and how we define the world around us.
In Aotearoa, Māori has become a minority language and the larger speech community is made up of English speakers. The regeneration of Māori language so that it is once again an everyday, commonly used medium of communication is the language goal here.
Often the need for language planning is overwhelmed by the sense of urgency imminent language loss imposes, and activity and implementation become the primary focus. Planning in the early stages can help ensure that efforts to revitalise or regenerate a language are carefully directed to be as effective as possible. Planning ensures that 'big picture' goals are set strategically and efforts to achieve goals are coordinated amongst all major stakeholders.
International language planning research suggests that there are five primary areas that account for language health - language usage, status, acquisition, corpus and awareness. Furthermore, each of these areas are "interdependent" (Cooper, 1980:113-125), so for example, the value of ensuring more people learn the language will be lessened if they do not in turn use it as an ordinary means of communication within the family and wider community. This is where language planning can ensure that all regeneration efforts are coordinated in each of the five areas that satisfy language health. (Te Puni Kōkiri, 2002b:10).
When planning around each of these indicators, there are several issues to consider, some of which are listed below.
- Language Usage: How frequently do Māori speakers use their Māori language skills? In what domains do Māori speakers use the language? What do they talk about in Māori?
- Language Status: What value do people place on Māori language? What attitudes and beliefs do people hold towards the use of Māori language in different facets of their everyday lives?
- Language Acquisition: How many people know how to speak Māori? How did these people learn Māori? What is the range of proficiency among Māori speakers?
- Language Corpus: Can Māori language adequately describe and reflect modern New Zealand life? Are there words for the new technologies that are used within homes and communities?
- Critical Awareness of Language: How much do people know about the health of the Māori language? Do people know the choices that exist in terms of learning and speaking Māori? Do they have strategies to implement the choices that they make?