Balancing the local with the universal: Minimal English and Agricultural Training in the Pacific

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Abstract

Minimal English includes semantic primes, other easy-to-translate words and words that are important in a specific culture. In Pacific countries like Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Solomon Islands, the latter includes words for local foods, places and aspects of daily life, for example ‘yam’, ‘village’, ‘canoe’. An additional consideration is that the languages of wider communication in these countries are English-based creoles (Tok Pisin, Solomons Pijin), with the result that certain English-origin words are well known in the country. An earlier study (Caffery and Hill 2019) on agricultural training materials in PNG found that their readability and intelligibility was improved by changing difficult words to simpler and easier-to-translate words. At the same time, however, participants preferred English words that were familiar to them from Tok Pisin. Thus, both the ‘local’ and the ‘universal’ are important in developing optimal agricultural training materials. The chapter discusses the lessons from the PNG research and ongoing work on comparable materials in the Solomon Islands.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMinimal Languages in Action
EditorsCliff Goddard
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Chapter2
Pages29-51
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9783030640774
ISBN (Print)9783030640767
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2021

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