Language choice and social networks in Hanuabada

  • Margaret Momo Mase

    Student thesis: Coursework Masters - CDU


    This thesis reports the results of a study on the language choices, language attitudes and social networks of the inhabitants of Hanuabada, a multilingual community in Papua New Guinea.

    The responses which comprise the data of this study are the self-reports given by the people of Hanuabada. Data were elicited by means of two questionnaires. In many cases , the questionnaires formed the basis and written records of the interviews conducted with the respondents. Some respondents preferred to complete the questionnaires without interview.

    The first part of the study was designed specifically to investigate the language use and attitudes of people in Hanuabada. The sample for the first part of the study was selected using stratified systematic sampling , with the clans as strata. There were 55 people in sample 1: 30 males and 25 females.

    The second part was designed specifically to investigate the villageness of the respondents and their social networks, i.e., the number of people they came in contact with most often and how the respondents related to each of them. The sample for the second part of the study was chosen to ensure that respondents had social networks across the whole of the villageness and language-use ranges. There were 52 people in sample 2: 29 males and 23 females.

    The results show that there is little support in Hanuabada for the Papua New Guinea Education policy on the introduction of Tok Ples (village language) programs into schools; most of the respondents in Hanuabada favour learning English, whereas only a few favour learning the indigenous language (Motu), at school . A similar attitude seems to exist with regard to which languages should be learned at home. Although 97 per cent of the respondents reported 'using' Motu at home, only 67 per cent thought it should be 'learned' at home, and whereas only 40 per cent 'use' English at home, 72 per cent indicated it should be 'learned ' at home . The reasons for learning and using English given by the respondents in this study can all be classed as 'instrumental' and be seen to relate to social mobility and improvement in employment prospects in the formal sector.

    However, Motu is viewed as of 'great importance' by most (83 per cent) of the respondents. Over two thirds of the respondents in the sample gave reasons for using Motu that implied a sense of both personal and cultural identity - "this is our own language".

    After ranking respondents according to their language choices, three broad 'types' of language users were found. Associated with each language type is a 'life-mode', which determines the social, cultural and linguistic behaviour, and also the networks of the individuals of that mode. 'Life-mode L' comprises those who live (and most probably work) out of the village, and who belong to the low-rank language type (who use Motu on its own the least). 'Life-mode M' comprises those who live in the village, but work out of the village, and who belong to the mid-rank language type. 'Life mode-H' comprises those who live in the village and do not work, and who belong to the high-rank language type (who use Motu on its own more than the other types, and do not use any other language alone).
    Date of AwardAug 1995
    Original languageEnglish

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