Film, phones and faraway places: A modern tale of language maintenance

Professor Miriam Meyerhoff discusses how modern technologies are helping the community of Hog Harbour in NE Vanuatu preserve their native language

Inaugural lecture - Professor Miriam Meyerhoff

September 2016

Vanuatu is the most linguistically diverse country on the planet; many of its 110 or so languages are spoken by communities of only a few hundred speakers.  Conventional wisdom holds that such languages remain strong and vital when their communities are tightly-knit, and that they are threatened by urbanisation and international migration. In her professorial lecture, Professor Miriam Meyerhoff discusses how modern technologies – video, mobile phones and CDs – are in fact helping the community of Hog Harbour in NE Vanuatu to counter the threats that mobility presents to maintaining a vibrant speech community.

This is Professor Meyerhoff’s inaugural lecture as Professor of Linguistics at Victoria University of Wellington.