Studying the vernacular In the vernacular by the vernacular speakers: The case of the Kulu Language Institute In The Solomon Islands

It was either by necessity or accident or by both that a vernacular literacy program was started way back in the late 1990s among the Luqa speakers of the Western Province in the Solomon Islands. When a young man of the Luqa language, who had just graduated with a Masters Degree majoring in Bible and Linguistics, came up with the idea of translating the Bible into the vernacular language, the Luqa speakers were no doubt thrilled about the possibility of having a very important but foreign book written in their own vernacular. 

For the young man and the other speakers of the vernacular, the goal of translating a foreign book into the familiar vernacular is so that the vernacular speakers could understand it. However, achieving that goal seemed doubly remote and the hope of reading the book in their own vernacular seemed unrealizable when it became obvious that most vernacular speakers themselves could not intelligibly read the first book, the Gospel of Mark, even when it was translated and trial published in their own language.

They all wanted to understand the book that was important to them, hence, the need to translate it into the vernacular; but when it in fact was translated a greater practical difficulty became obvious- the young and adult vernacular speakers needed to be taught to read and understand their own language first. So was born the literacy concept which later formally became Kulu Language Institute. 

This presentation will summarize how a vernacular program established by a vernacular speaker for the vernacular speakers and has gone for about 20 years has developed a vernacular metalanguage and continues to develop critical vernacular grammars that engage both young and adult vernacular speakers in an analytical study of their own vernacular.

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Updated:  17 October 2018/Responsible Officer:  CASS Marketing & Communications/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications