Thursday, February 12, 2015


We found this statement in a book we are reading on island nations in the Pacific:

"These small scattered island groups are, however, amazingly diverse in terms of native culture.  One-third of the world's languages are spoken in just four places: Papua New Guinea, the Solomon islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia."  (Pacific Ocean, World Almanac Library.  Jen Green 2006)
Really?  That sounded very hard to believe.  So we looked it up.

A quick internet search turned up this and this from Nat Geo, both of which claim that the Pacific contains 19% of the world's languages, which is still impressive considering that the population of Oceania is less than 1% of the global population.

Does anyone have any more information about this?  Comments or thoughts?

1 comment:

entelechyproject said...

I've been thinking about this on and off since you posted - and thinking it must be because of the archipelago nature of the region. People are separated, even if trade still takes place, enough that language evolves quite separately on each little cluster of islands (or different parts of the same larger island?) I love the idea of it, or rather, the reality of it ...