|500 Pitcairn-Norfolk (2006–2008)
400 on Norfolk Island (2008)
Official language in
Norfuk (increasingly spelt Norfolk) or Norf’k is the language spoken on Norfolk Island (in the Pacific Ocean) by the local residents. It is a blend of English of the 18th century and Tahitian originally introduced by settlers from the Pitcairn Islands who spoke Pitkern. It is the co-official language of Norfolk Island.
As travel to and from Norfolk Island becomes more common, Norfuk is falling into disuse. Efforts are being made to restore the language to more common usage, with education of children, the publication of English–Norfuk dictionaries, use of the language in signage, and the renaming of some tourist attractions (most notably the rainforest walk "A Trip Ina Stik") to their Norfuk equivalents. In 2007, the United Nations added Norfuk to its list of endangered languages.
Relationship to Pitkern
As mentioned above, Norfuk is descended predominantly from the Pitkern (Pitcairnese or Pi'kern) spoken by settlers from the Pitcairn Islands. The relative ease of travel from English-speaking countries such as Australia and New Zealand to Norfolk Island, particularly when compared with that of travel to the Pitcairn Islands, has meant that Norfuk has been exposed to much greater contact with English than Pitkern has. The difficulties in accessing the Pitcairn population have meant that a serious comparison of the two languages for mutual intelligibility has been largely impossible.
The language is closely related to Pitkern, but has no other close relatives other than its parent tongues of English and Tahitian. It is generally considered that English has had more of an influence upon the language than Tahitian, with words of Tahitian extraction being largely confined to taboo subjects, negative characterisations, and adjectives indicating that something is undesirable.
Due to the language's nature as being a spoken rather than written language and the lack of standardisation, a number of attempts have been made at developing an orthography for the language. Early attempts either attempted to enforce English spelling onto the Norfuk words, or used diacritical marks to represent sounds distinct to the language.
Alice Buffett, a Norfolk Island parliamentarian and Australian-trained linguist, developed a codified grammar and orthography for the language in the 1980s, assisted by Dr Donald Laycock, an Australian National University academic. Their book, Speak Norfuk Today, was published in 1988. This orthography has won the endorsement of the Norfolk Island government, and its use is becoming prevalent.
The language itself does not have words to express some concepts, particularly those having to do with science and technology. Some Islanders believe that the only solution is to create a committee charged with creating new words in Norfuk rather than simply adopting English words for new technological advances. For example, Norfuk recently adopted the word kompyuuta, a Norfuk-ised version of computer. Processes similar to this exist in relation to other languages around the world, such as the Māori language in New Zealand and the Faroese and Icelandic languages. Some languages already have official bodies (such as New Zealand's Māori Language Commission or France's Académie française) for creating new words.
- Norfuk dialect reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
- Norfolk Island Language (Norf’k) Act 2004 (Act No. 25 of 2004)
- The Dominion Post, April 21, 2005 (page B3)
- The Daily Telegraph, Save our dialect, say Bounty islanders, retrieved April 6, 2007
- Feizkhah, Elizabeth, Keeping Norfolk Alive, TIME Pacific, August 6, 2001
- "UN adds Norfolk language to endangered list". ABC News. Retrieved 2013-05-05.
- Avram, Andrei (2003). "Pitkern and Norfolk revisited". English Today 19 (1): 44–49. doi:10.1017/S0266078403003092. Retrieved 2007-04-09.
- Ingram, John. Norfolk Island-Pitcairn English (Pitkern Norfolk), University of Queensland, 2006
- Buffett, Alice, An Encyclopædia of the Norfolk Island Language, 1999
- Buffett, Alice, An Encyclopædia of the Norfolk Island Language, 1999, p. xvi
- Buffett, David E., An Encyclopædia of the Norfolk Island Language, 1999, p. xii
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