Monday, March 04, 2024

National's linguistic engineering

The National government came into office on a culture-war platform of eradicating te reo from public life. There are the obvious measures, like spending millions changing the names of government agencies, and requiring government agencies to primarily use English. But its not just government agencies. An OIA response I received today showed Ministers are also doing their bit, by eradicating the use of te reo from their official correspondence:

I have noted to officials in a meeting on 11 December 2023 that Ministerial correspondence should either be all in Te Reo Maori or English, not mixed language [sic]. This also applies to the formatting of my letter responses to requestors.
Which invites the question: which English? Or rather, whose English? Because New Zealand English (as opposed to American, British, or pre-Treaty Victorian English) has always included a large number of te reo words, including everyday greetings of the sort that the Minister is targeting with this policy. Modern New Zealand English has adopted (or stolen) more, as more people have grown more comfortable with te reo - but it has always been there. Issuing an injunction against "mixed language" simply denies who we are as a people and a country. But then, that's exactly what this policy is about, isn't it?