Patricia KatasiANTH 315Professor Courtney Handman8/3/2015The Artificial Birth of a Lingua Franca.In this paper I analyse colonial language policies with a special focus on Pidgin English and Police Motu in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea under the lense of Patrick Harries’ 1987 essay, “The Roots of Ethnicity: Discourse and the Politics of Language Construction in SouthEast Africa.”In that essay, Harries posited that part of the colonisation and subjugation of Africa by European colonial powers involved language policies that overlooked the realities and diversity of African languages in favour of order and a certain pseudo objectiveness that the missionaries and first wave colonialists called science. Harries credits this “scientific” parsing of African languages during the frenzied scramble and partition of Africa to the near zealot belief in the ideology of Positivism that was sweeping Europe. He describes positivism as, “…the philosophy linking science with improvement, the nineteenth century industrial bourgeoisie believed these categories to be givens that were as historically discrete as they were incontrovertible.” (Harries, 1988)Furthermore, Harries postulates that the introduction of a written Tsonga and grammar was based more off the current European scholarly discourse rather than the reality at work in the African communities. The missionaries, confronted by the African reality of languages so far removed from the existent European languages, in a bid to make sense of them restructured the existing African languages in a way that made sense to their European linguistic sensibilities.According to Harries “Once linguistic experts had anchored languages spatially, by erecting borders around their regularities of grammar and vocabulary, they sought to stabilize them over time by tracing their historical roots.”.(?Harries. 1988) In the Language notes pamphlet I am analysing for the purpose of this assignment, this attitude of “scientific” analysis of Pidgin English and Police Motu is immediately noticed in the author’s W. G. Sippo’s introduction to the contents of the pamphlet. Sippo castigates those who denigrate these indigenous languages, claiming that they are, “…inadequate, ambiguous, caste languages, and worse…”. He accuses people who speak thus of ignorance of the languages because they think of them as bastardisations of English rather than languages in their own right, which he argues is shortsighted. Despite his criticism of such individuals however, he goes on to say that “English of course is the ultimate aim, but it will be a long time before enough of the ordinary villagers are fluent in it for us to dispense with the lingua franca, which when properly learned, form exact and very adaptable means of expression.” He believes this because, according to him, while these Pidgin languages are at best not to be criticised, one must be aware that they are lacking in terms of science and the impossibility of “expressing abstractions” in them. (Sippo, 1958)The pamphlet in many ways echoes Harries’ thesis on how artificial linguistic boundaries were drawn that merely served to help the missionaries understand African diversity rather than accurately encompass the multitude of languages spoken. Harries argued that “…the experts constructed linguistic borders on the basis of social rather than scientific criteria. It will also be shown that the historical depth given by the experts to their spatial categories was entirely conjectural. The original delineation of the language, in terms of time and space, it will be argued, should thus be seen as subjective and speculative and far removed from the supposed objectivity of science. (Harries. 1988) In the pamphlet, Sippo as he sets out to provide some guidelines for spelling and pronunciation utters a disclaimer of sorts wherein he mentions the multitude of languages in Papua and New Guinea and emphasises the importance of a “uniform system” of grammar to (in my opinion) explain why he was only addressing two out of a veritable plethora of language in the region. (Sippo, 1958)Harries quoted one of the missionaries woefully writing about one of the difficulties of learning African languages saying “…that is what slows down the understanding of the language, that one has to learn numerous different dialects before understanding a conversation.” This is more than evident in the Language Notes pamphlet under the Preliminary Rules in Section 1 when the author says, “The true sound of the word as locally pronounced will be taken as the basis of the spelling ….Accents are not normally used. Where necessary, an acute accent may be used…” (Harries. 1988) “Erskine believed that the ‘tribes or nations’ of southern Mozambique ‘were at one time and in fact are now as distant from each other as the English and French and can understand each other’s language as little as those European nations can’.” This critique found in Harries’ writing is actually echoed in a cursory reading of the pamphlet, wherein despite the linguistic difference between the Pidgin English and Police Motu, the author insists on teaching these languages by comparing their sounds, vowels and consonants to English words. A great example of this is wherein he is teaching Diphthongs, “AIas in ice”. Harries voices a similar critique of the so called experts that descended on Africa during the partition whose objectivity was hampered by notions of Social Darwinism and as such saw African tongues as earlier, rudimentary versions of crude versions of European languages. He posits that, “African society was consequently seen through a prism or filter of late nineteenth century evolutionist and Cartesian thought. It is through this perception of reality that we must understand the rationale of ethnolinguistic classification…” Furthermore, “Much of their pseudohistory of the Thonga language was drawn from the missionaries’ existent (European) body of knowledge.” (Harries. 1988) The only case in which Harries analysis of language classification in Southern Africa and the Thonga language differs from the languages spoken in Papua and New Guinea is in that while Thonga was a creation that belonged solely to the missionaries (to a great extent), Pidgin English and Police Motu (at least according to the pamphlet) is addressed as belonging to the native more so than to the foreigners. To Harries, “…in a manner that combined endearment, loyalty and possession, they almost owned it? Thonga was ‘our’ language with ‘our’ orthography…The control exercised by missionaries over vocabularies and later dictionaries gave them enormous power over the conceptual world of the ‘new society’, the ‘new people emerging from darkness’.” (?Harries. 1988)Conversely, Sippo refers to Pidgin English as a creation of the people wherein he actually warns officers learning this language that often, the Pidgin derivative of a word might mean something completely different in English and as shown in his explanation of double negatives, while it may initially be confusing to a foreigner, the use actually makes sense. Despite the favourable tone with which Sippo addresses Pidgin English and Police Motu and his frequent castigation of popular wrong opinions and ignorance that argued that one could bastardise English by dropping some letters and thereby come to Pidgin, certain things rub me wrong in this little pamphlet. For instance, while praising the ingenuity of Pidgin English and Police Motu, Sippo nonetheless says that these languages are only useful for the time being given that the natives aren’t sharp enough to pick up English but are sharp enough to pick up Pidgin. (Sippo, 1958)Furthermore, he views Pidgin English and Police Motu as mere tools to further modernisation through the colonial vehicle to bring science and philosophy to the dark continent. This is seen when he patronisingly argues that of course, credit must be given where credit is due i.e. Pidgin English must be lauded as a great language in some aspects, however, “There are some things of course, things outside their experience e.g. sciences, which must be filled in from English, and there are other drawbacks, such as difficulty in expressing abstractions.” (Sippo, 1958) Sippo clearly believes that an understanding and immersion in Pidgin English will enable the colonial officers better foster modernisation in the veritable backwater that he sees Papua and New Guinea as. By doing this, he clearly then places the colonial officers and colonial powers in a position of superiority to the the indigenous peoples he writes about presenting them as paragons of intelligence, history, culture etc while the colonised are at the other end of the spectrum, bumbling owners of this rudimentary language. Despite his remonstrations against perceived ideas of Pidgin as “broken English” he still goes on to patronisingly say about Police Motu that, “It is nevertheless not difficult to learn…in many areas, the language is spoken with no more grammar than is spoken here.” (Sippo, 1958, p.13) He claims that English is “…of course the ultimate aim” all the whilst almost imperceptibly undermining the indigenous languages with indirect jabs at their lack of grammar and formality, as well as mentioning how much easier for the natives Pidgin English is for them to learn whilst English would be an incomparable chore. He thus connects Pidgin English and Police Motu to a lack of culture and an inferior tongue linked to tribes. This is further shown by his description of Police Motu ambiguous and imprecise and therefore as unfit for expressing modern scientific thought which he had actually mentioned much earlier on in the introduction of the pamphlet.In conclusion, by comparing Harries’ essay and Sippo’s educational pamphlet to colonial officers in New Guinea and the Territory of Papua, I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with Harries about the use of classification of languages in Africa by colonial powers as a tool to enforce colonial propaganda. Clearly, the colonial powers enforced artificial classifications to the native languages to further their Eurocentric ideals on the societies they sought to colonise as shown by the “Language Notes” pamphlet.Works Cited.Harries, Patrick. “The roots of ethnicity: discourse and the politics of language construction inSouthEast Africa.” ?African affairs?(1988): 2552.W. G. Sippo “Language Notes” Territory of Papua and New Guinea. 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