26 February 2007

Kanak Language Academy

NOUMEA, February 27 (Oceania Flash) - New Caledonia's government has officially appointed late last week its Vice-President, Déwé Gorodey, to the position of Chairman of the newly-created indigenous Kanak language academy.

The cabinet decision follows the inception, late January, by New Caledonia's legislative assembly, the Congress, of the French territory's first indigenous Kanak languages Academy.

The main aim of the Kanak languages Academy is to preserve New Caledonia's rich cultural indigenous heritage of up to 40 indigenous known languages and dialects.

On the institutional level, the new academy's other task is to "normalise, promote and develop" New Caledonia's linguistic heritage....

The Kanak Language Academy (KLA) was a concept introduced back in 1998, as part of the autonomy Nouméa Accord that were signed by the French government, as well as pro-French and pro-independence parties.

The pact, which paves the way for a gradual transfer of powers from metropolitan France to local authorities and a possible referendum on independence between 2013 and 2018, also gave special recognition, for the first time, to the indigenous Kanak peoples.

"(Kanak) languages are an essential, but all too often forgotten component of the world's cultural heritage in so far as they represent not only a means of communication, but also a unique perspective of the world", New Caledonia's government said.

New Caledonia's Kanak indigenous languages are mostly classified as being part of the Austronesian family of human languages.

According to recent population data, it is also estimated that around 60,000 of the some 230,000 inhabitants of New Caledonia speak at least one of these indigenous languages.
See the Head Heeb for a characteristically thorough analysis of the political context and ramifications of the Kanak Academy.

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