brid’s the wrod?

June 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

Well perhaps this is a really old pot. A much older form of bird in English was brid sometimes brydd.
From the OED

Etymology: Middle English byrd, bryd< Old English brid(masculine) (plural briddas), in Northumbrian bird, birdas ‘offspring, young,’ but used only of the young of birds. There is no corresponding form in any other Germanic language, and the etymology is unknown.

The vowel and the liquid have undergone a process known as metathesis – the swapping of places of sounds within a word (though note speakers of NZE subsequently do not pronounce the postvocalic liquid). Most often seen as a phonological process which results in change over time, a few languages use metathesis for grammatical purposes. Sierra Miwok a language a severely endangered language of California uses this process to derive nouns:

Base Derived form
kalaŋ ‘to dance’ kalŋa ‘a dance’
ʔumuʧ ‘to approach winter’ ʔumʧu ‘winter’
tuyaŋ ‘to jump’ tuyŋa ‘a jump’
ʔawin ‘to play’ ʔawni ‘a game’

(data from Stonham, J. 2006, p.93).


ngā āhua – attitudes and tataiako

June 12, 2011 § 2 Comments

Opportunities to collect data about language attitudes in New Zealand are never in short supply. However how they represent the range of views in New Zealand is hard to gauge.

Recently Dr Pita Sharples, Minister for Māori announced a project Tataiako to develop the cultural competency of secondary school teachers in te ao Māori – the Māori world, including elements of te reo, language, and tikanga – protocol. Elements necessary to engage with the Māori community in the school and in which the school is embedded.  There was the inevitable and for some teachers reasonable response regarding heavy workloads. However many of the responses did not come from teachers or school principals.

Here’s what readers of the website of the National Business Review had to say:

If you make a minority language compulsory in this way,instead of engendering support for the language, the result will be the opposite – resistance and negative attitudes. Sometimes, I think we have a government of absolute idiots with no knowledge of the wider world and what has happened elsewhere.
Anonymous | Saturday, June 11, 2011 – 1:23pm

I was thinking of doing a diploma in education next year but if I have to waste my time learning something that is totally irrelevant I’ll seriously reconsider. Trainee teachers get the treaty of Waitangi rammed down their throats enough as it is. Unless the teacher’s subject is maori it is totally irrelevant and a waste of time & money. What will it achieve? Nothing. Maori will still at the bottom of the heap because their attitudes remain the same. They’ll still beat their children to death, fail school, go to jail, go on a benefit, live in poverty – but their teachers will speak basic maori, even if the students themselves can’t. The real issue is why the govt forces them to go to the crappiest schools because they live in low decile areas.
Anonymous | Saturday, June 11, 2011 – 4:04pm

We all love the Haka ….. whats wrong with embracing a little more Maori rather than assisting the John Hadfield’s of this world
Chopper says…. | Saturday, June 11, 2011 – 4:39pm

In response to Chopper says…. | Saturday, June 11, 2011 – 4:39pm
The element of compulsion is what’s wong. Even Labour wasn’t foolish enough to do that.
Anonymous | Saturday, June 11, 2011 – 4:43pm

many of our teachers struggle with literacy and numeracy let alone Maori.
Anonymous | Saturday, June 11, 2011 – 4:55pm

Maori Youth Council should learn from some SE ASIAN countries, where local languages made compulsory had actually failed. Most local graduates had problem understanding most communications predominantly in English, written or verbal..
No Time | Sunday, June 12, 2011 – 8:04am

Its actually very similar to how hitler altered Germany’s education system.
Anonymous | Sunday, June 12, 2011 – 11:50am

an anthem without a nation?

June 1, 2011 § 3 Comments

As some of you may know I am interested in anthems as examples of language ideology and planning.  New Zealand’s own anthem underwent cosmetic surgery in the late nineties by becoming more beautiful and bilingual, now beginning with a sequence in te reo Maaori.

An anthem as a national symbol might be understood as a narrative of nation’s character – it’s aspirations towards unity and perhaps even uniqueness – though nations have shared anthems in the past – God Save the Queen, anyone? Other nations reflect the natural landscapes for example Australia’s beauties, rich and rare. Ours doesn’t mention our beautiful islands (nor our inclement weather for that matter), and perhaps strike a note of humility, perhaps an idealised trait of the people, by beseeching God’s protection.

The Saami, known by the exonym, ‘name from the outside’ as the Lapps or Lapplanders, though some Saami react strongly to such nomenclature live across a region of northern Scandanavia and adjacent Russia.  While associated in the popular mind with reindeer herding the Saami  engage in quite varied lifeways.  The recognition of political rights for the Saami is quite developed in the Scandanavian countries, with linguistic and educational rights in some areas, as well as the provision of separate Saami Parliaments in all regions but Russia.

However, this cross-border regionalism of the Saami people is from an outsider’s perspective. To the Saami, those borders are less relevant despite the fact that they crossover and carve up the region they have long referred to as Sápmi.  It is a paean to this ‘land’ that the Saami sing in the firs three verses of the Saami anthem, ‘Song of the Sami people’ and it is this region that the song calls on the sons of the sun to defend.

The Sami language family, a subgroup of Uralic is comprised of ten languages.  The anthem lyrics seem available in many of them. You can read them here  and note the orthogrpahic differences across the varieties and the influence of those national borders on representing the languages.

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