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Dickinson College

Publication Date

Spring 2007

Program Name

Fiji: Multiculturalism and Social Change

Abstract

As the country of Fiji strives to keep up in the throws of modernity of the 21st century, it simultaneously attempts to grip onto its culture that distinguishes it from the rest of the world. Linguistically, Fiji is categorized into three general divisions (although each being greatly influenced since the 19th century). English, Fijian and Hindi serve as the three “official” languages of Fiji; as components of one country, they play significant roles in the formation of national identity. Language is a necessary element of culture, and was therefore studied in order to promote cultural identity for the people of Fiji. This study is an attempt to uproot the origins of why the Fijian language is considered as “at risk” for extinction, and whether or not it acts as a unifying or dividing factor for the people of Fiji. The study focuses on the Fijian language as a part of children’s education, how it is valued, and the weight it carries in society. Secondary research provided necessary background information which helped to prepare interview questions, and in turn promoted useful conversations. Interviews were conducted with experts in the field of Fijian language, political figures such as a representative from the Ministry of Education, primary and secondary school teachers, and students in order to answer the above focus questions. Findings suggest an overall desire to promote the Fijian language, despite significant challenges which must be faced in order for progress to be made. This study was conducted in hopes of sparking greater interest in promoting Fijian, in order to preserve a unique and valuable culture.

Disciplines

Linguistic Anthropology | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures

 

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