Faculty of Arts, Law and Education

COVID-19: Language matters in the Pacific website

Date: May, 05, 2020 09:13 Age: 1 year

The School of Language, Arts and Media has a new project to share with the USP community, COVID-19: Language matters in the Pacific. The website is live at the following link: https://sites.google.com/view/covid19-language-matters

You will find pages already in Bislama, Fijian, Fiji Sign Language, Gagana Samoa, Māori Kuki Airani, Rotuman and Solomon Islands Pijin, and there are five more in progress. The collection will continue to grow as more language communities join the project so, if you donít see your language listed, please get in touch! There are resources to support you if you want to contribute to the project, translate materials, create new resources using free templates and images, check whether a resource is suitable, or share material with others responsibly and safely.

The project is a collaboration between linguists and language communities from across the Pacific, united in the belief that access to information is what keeps communities safe in challenging times. We are guided by the principles that:

  1. We all need access to information: If we fail to reach certain people, we leave them behind.
  2. We need to remove language barriers: The Pacific is the most multilingual region of the world, so using English only will exclude many people.
  3. We need to be inclusive: Communities living with disabilities may be prevented from hearing or seeing information that others take for granted.
  4. We need to think critically whenever we read or view or listen: Access to incorrect information can be more dangerous than not having information at all.
  5. We need to share information with others responsibly: If we do not check our facts before we share, we may confuse people or put their lives at risk.

While we all hope that the USP region will continue to remain relatively unaffected by active COVID-19 cases, we cannot be complacent about the situation, especially as we know our borders will not stay closed forever. We are also aware of our Pacific language communities in other parts of the world, who are in more desperate need of information that is accessible and relevant.

USP is the only university in the world to offer degree programmes in Cook Islands Māori, Fijian, Hindi, Rotuman, Tongan & Niuafoˈou, Vagahau Niue, and Vanuatu Language Studies, as well as Linguistics. The COVID19: Language matters in the Pacific project is just one of many practical initiatives that reminds us why these programmes are so necessary.


For further information, please visit the project website or contact fiona.willans(at)usp.ac.fj.

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