Tok Pisin and Tok Ples as languages of identification in Papua New Guinea
Cass, P. (1999) Tok pisin and tok ples as languages of identification in Papua New Guinea. Media Development, 4; pp. 28-33.
After the Second World War missions in Papua New Guinea faced new imperatives driven by the reaction of the Australian administration to UN directives. As a result the administration decided to use English as the sole language of education. These changes led to the closure of Tok Ples schools and the end of Tok Ples as the primary language of education for indigenous people. Most significantly, however, Tok Pisin came into its own as a lingua franca. These factors combined to shift the role of language as an identifier from a purely village or regional level (Tok Ples) to a national one (Tok Pisin) Subsequent educational policies have reversed this situation. This article argues that for a country with so many languages the temporary sacrifice of a few indigenous languages was justified. Implicit in the paper is the argument that Tok Pisin should be treated as a language indigenous to PNG and that attempts to suppress it or dismiss it by metropolitan administrations and missions failed completely because it was a language that grew out of the people themselves.