Solomon Islands is one of the richest countries in the world in language diversity. Not only are there around 70 living languages, but these languages come from two profoundly different language families: the Austronesian family which includes Luqa and Kubokota and non-Austronesian languages like Bilua language of nearby Vella Lavella.
The Kulu Language Institute’s work is inspiring other Solomon Islanders to value and study their own languages. It has also attracted attention beyond the Solomon Islands as an outstanding example of a locally run language initiative. We are hoping to grow this part of the Kulu Language Institute’s work to develop an Island Language Institute to bring people together from around the country.
One exciting step in this direction was “Understanding our languages: Solomon Islands” was held in Honiara on 19-23 August 2019. We’ve written about it in the COEDL and PARADISEC blogs. The event was sponsored and hosted by Islands Bible Ministries and the Kulu Language Institute, with support from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in the Dynamics of Language, the University of Melbourne, and the Australian National University. 100 attendees speaking 44 Solomon Islands languages came for five days of presentations and hands on work on historical linguistics, contemporary language change, grammar, archival materials, documentation techniques, and dictionaries. Dr Alpheaus Zobule and Professor Nick Evans delivered two evening public lectures. Check out these videos from the event, where people talk about the value of their languages.