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International Journal of the Sociology of Language

Founded by Fishman, Joshua A.

Ed. by Garcia Otheguy, Ofelia / Duchêne, Alexandre / Coulmas, Florian

6 Issues per year

CiteScore 2016: 0.53

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.505
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.716

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Volume 2005, Issue 172


Factors Favoring and Disfavoring Obsolescence in the South Pacific: A Case Study of Rotuman

Marit Vamarasi
Published Online: 2005-07-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl.2005.2005.172.79


The Rotuman language situation is unique in many ways. The language has no official status in Fiji, nor is it the medium of education on the island of Rotuma, though literacy rates are high. There is virtually no reading material in Rotuman, with the exception of the recently published Bible. The language has no close relatives, its nearest relations being Fijian and the Polynesian languages within the Eastern Oceanic subgroup of the Austronesian family. The size of the island and its relative isolation from Fiji's main islands, to and from which there is sparse transportation, are additional obstacles. With no restaurants or hotels, tourism is not encouraged, though there has been wavering on the part of the Council of Chiefs on this matter. The only cash crop is copra; various industries and businesses have failed. The island relies largely on remittances from relatives living overseas. Indeed, recent rumblings about Rotuman independence reflect feelings of frustration over the slow rate of development on the island. This paper looks at the viability of Rotuman, following the approach proposed by Edwards (1992) and modified by Grenoble and Whaley (1998), to provide a picture of the factors which affect language maintenance and obsolescence in insular regions of the South Pacific.

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Published Online: 2005-07-27

Published in Print: 2005-02-01

Citation Information: International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Volume 2005, Issue 172, Pages 79–90, ISSN (Online) 1613-3668, ISSN (Print) 0165-2516, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl.2005.2005.172.79.

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