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PAPUA NEW GUINEA NEEDS A LANGUAGE POLICY TO STEER IT INTO THE 21 ST CENTURY AND ACHIEVE ITS LONG TERM DEVELOPMENT & STRATEGIC GOAL -THE VISION 2050 Cultural Diversity and Its Problems

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Our diverse cultures and languages may be our strength in terms of culture, belief systems and world views, but in essence, it is our source of identity problems and political coherence. So, how do we integrate all that into a one coherent system of
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  PAPUA NEW GUINEA NEEDS A LANGUAGE POLICY TO STEER IT INTO THE 21 ST  CENTURY AND ACHIEVE ITS LONG TERM DEVELOPMENT & STRATEGIC GOAL  –   THE VISION 2050 Cultural Diversity and Its Problems Our diverse cultures and languages may be our strength in terms of culture, belief systems and world views, but in essence, it is our source of identity problems and political coherence. So, how do we integrate all that into a one coherent system of thought, language and communication? Through Tok Pisin ,  English  or  Motu ? As it is now,  English  is the official medium of communication. Tok Pisin  is both a social and official language in parliament and daily life, while  Motu  remains purely a social language. The three languages were adopted at independence day as the official languages of Papua New Guinea yet only one becomes the official language of education, justice system, business and foreign relations  –   English. Not because of its universality, but because we have come to accept it as such at post-independence. Look across our neighbor; Indonesia has its own language  –   Bahasa, China  –   Cantonese or Mandarin Chinese and the Japanese language for Japan. What I am saying here is that unless we have a national language of our own, our identity and comprehension of issues we learn about in a foreign language will remain elitist as long as time permits. In other words, we remain subservient in our own land because we speak in a foreign tongue while the bulk of the population speak different languages and dialects. This affects literacy levels and promotes illiteracy  –   the very basis of segregation between the poor and the rich, educated and the illiterate is forever widening  –   all because we cannot communicate in One  Language. Unity is strengthened by language  –   and that language once it is well structured and taught, it becomes the medium of instruction and business. In this regard, I am propagating the idea that Papua New Guinea needs an official language policy. We may have to do away with  English  and use either  Motu  or Tok Pisin  as the official language. The sooner we do this, the better it is for PNG to become more coherent and integrated as a united country. Furthermore, it will eliminate language and cultural divisions which have become the basis of conflicts. What is Language? And, Why it is Important to Have a Language Policy Can man speak without a language? Yes. Man could still learn to use sign language to convey his thoughts or communicate with each other. In other words sign language can be a means of communication. But, can man think without language? This is indeed a very difficult question. How possibly could one think without words when our thoughts have always been processed through an interwoven fabric of words. Words constitute feeling and thus, words engulf a feeling and thinking. One conveys his thoughts in the form of words, and words constitute language, and language is a powerful medium of indoctrination if not used properly. Language when instituted formally in an education system, and colonization, any language, be it English, French, Spanish or Swahili --- this powerful means of communication can eventual ly destroy people’s culture, tradition and identity.  On this treatise, I specifically intend to look at language and mind relationship, language and education, human development, and proper nation building. In discussing these issues I have in mind particular reference to the development of Papua New Guinea and its education system. The current system was designed by colonial masters, like any colonized country, to destroy and insubordinate the subjects to a mental state of destituteness, confusion and dependency. The mind becomes thirsty of new values, concepts and development. Thus, the individual eventually becomes an instrument of destruction of the national values, beliefs and customs. Because the individual has no beliefs or values of his own that have been institutionalized for him to learn and acquire first-hand knowledge of his own country. Therefore the individual becomes an instrument of change and destruction rather than an instrument of revival and moderation. In short, in this article I will deliberate on the question of what is thinking, followed by the issues of language, education, human development, law and order problems and nation building. What is thinking? Let us engage ourselves with some metaphysical speculations and begin with the Question: What is thinking? Different philosophers ranging from Socrates to Kant, and contemporary thinkers like Ayer approach this question differently. Some argue that we cannot disassociate thinking from language. Whereas others argue that thinking can be an innate value, an inner voice so to speak, but in what form this inner voice comes is not known. One can only be sure that there is some form of thinking taking place. The famous Scottish philosopher David Hume once said that the human mind constitutes of nothing but impressions and ideas. In fact, if we take his line of reasoning, i.e. referring to a child, before he learns to speak, the child is already responding to instinctual signs. At the age nearing one, I observe that children in fact listen to their parents talking to them. Modern psychology has proven that children (babies) in fact respond to parents instinctually. Most children between the age of one and two perceive impressions and they respond almost spontaneously. If a parent smiles to a baby, it will respond. This is natural instinct. Freud stated that babies respond to impressions as instinctual perceptions, thus these actions are naturally instinctual. Presupposes the fact that perhaps babies do not think. But when do they begin thinking? When does a baby, in the process of growth come to a realization of his/her personal existence? Regardless of whether children between the age of one and two think or not, they are in fact conceiving language almost every day of their growth. When spoken to they respond. Language at a n early stage of an infant’s development, it becomes fabricated to thinking. Thus thinking and language become cemented together in a form of that which we refer to as a process of reasoning; it is that we refer to as “thought” or “thinking”. An infant tha t develops into a small child, youth and eventually an adult most certainly goes through this process of mental development. As a child develops over the years, his mental capacity matures. This is obvious in the reasoning capability and language used. Apart from a child being exposed to parental nurturing and discipline, the individual in him or herself develops. The mind thus perceives all forms of communication and stores them in the faculty of  memory. This information becomes the data from which the mind is capable of thinking and reasoning. Collective data therefore becomes the object of the human faculty of reasoning. Thinking and reasoning is comprised of collective data from matters of fact and existence. Data is comprised of language. If wrong information, language or data is conceived by the human mind, we expect wrong answers as is the case with modern age computers. The human mind is capable of disseminating information however much would depend on parental nurturing, and societal influence. An individual’s upbringing and education always reflect in later y ears of his life. One’s action in real  life is the mirror image of his or her up-bring. If cultured wrongly we expect disastrous and chaotic results. Education is therefore a vital instrument of proper acculturation and filtration. Age and Thinking Oral speech has always been in the form of words and language. Thinking is often expressed through language and thereby expressing one’s inner thoughts. Can language and thinking be disassociated? When I cast my mind over the horizon, I see the sea and sky meet according to the limitations of my sight. I realize in myself that a minute ago I was not thinking aloud or in the form of language. This is “light in thinking” because the mind is engaged in  a chemical process thus, not allowing transcription of anything but emptiness. If anyone ever indulges in “empty thinking” he or she must know immediately he belongs to the world of academia where he engages in the pursuit of knowledge. Those who do not experience “light  in thinking “lack   these vital intellectual ingredients and therefore cannot engage in the world of academia. Most often people of this nature are of a mediocre intellectual caliber and this rightly belong to the practical world. People belonging to this category should only engage in providing services to society. Such is a group of businessmen, entrepreneurs, public servants and servicing organizations within a nation. Experience “Light in thinking” is another form of the “inner voice”. This form of voice is a chemical process  –   that which is associated with our five senses namely: smelling, hearing, seeing, taste and touching. This unique chemical process occurs in the nervous system of the brain. That alone constitutes the mind and the process of thinking and oral speech. Hence, language is intricately woven together with thinking however thinking will always be antecedent to language. On the hand impressions of things in the world of matters of fact are always in the form of language or words. That is to say that everything which exists must be referred to with a name. Human beings often refer to objects in their living environments with names. Such is the basis of practical concept of facts as represented in the mind. Data collection by the human mind enables an individual to infer to past and immediate happenings. Such data collected allows the faculty of memory to transcend beyond factual evidence and cater for imagination. On e must not be confused between “light in thinking” and “imagination”. The two concepts differ to a great extent. The former is a thought process without extent. The former is a thought process without language, whereas the latter is an elevated form of posteriori thought but in language. All human beings must have the capacity to imagine or they would be dead mentally. Imagination is vital to human thinking as it  polarizes factual evidence for greater achievements. “Light in thinking” however stems from  within, and as it is the capability to create from within, persons of the highest intellectual caliber can only possess such intellectual ingredients. Such people often pass through human civilization unnoticed till after death. Thinking and Understanding Any language must associate with thinking in our everyday life, it is equally vital that, that process of common sense thinking be conceived with clarity. Too often people misunderstand because they cannot grasp the essence of language. Words must have meanings, and as words are put together to constitute language and oral speech, one must know the essence of each language expressed in the most clarified form. Only people of sharp intellectual capabilities ever use language precisely. Language is often misunderstood, misinterpreted and abused by the vulgar. The “essence of language” is like knowing the bone in the meat. It is knowing that which is that gives language a purpose and meaning. Capability to comprehend the essence of language stems from the chem ical process for “ light in thinking ”. Knowing the essence of language is an intellectual activity and “ light in thinking ” is the foregoing thought process in comprehending a language. Both therefore stem from the same chemical process in the human mind and neuron cells. Understanding the essence of language is a deeply rooted between language and thinking. It cannot be acquired overnight but through the long and enduring process of education and acculturization. Alternatively, one has simply got to be born from within a societal system of values traditions, customs, and world view in order to say that a language is his/her “ mother tongue ” . One has to be born from within a society or language group to comprehend the essence of a language. Any system of education imported will not help an individual come to grasp with the “ essence of language ”. By the same token, people of a colonized country cannot indulge in deep intellectual studies as they cannot grasp the essence of a language. Hence, people of a colonized country can only be academics in the fields of aesthetics as they cannot be engaged in sophisticated intellectual activities. Humans, as it is natural, can speak any language fluently, but they cannot master another ’ s way of life. Thinking, language and societal ways of life are interwoven elements which determine human behavior and conduct. Above all else, between thinking of an individual, and his societal values lies his language which is the mode of expression. Language is therefore the connection between the mental and the physical world. If the “essence of language” is not comprehensible then how cou ld one engage in sophisticated intellectual subjects such as physics, mathematics, and philosophy? One cannot express him/herself clearly and as a consequence will have distorted view of reality Language is the means of communication, and if institutionalized into a formal educational system, it can become a dangerous means of indoctrination to the people of a country. Subjects therefore become submissive to such a powerful force and eventually destroy their own cultural values beliefs and world views. Education thus becomes the instrument of cultural destruction.  Human Knowledge and Thinking Knowledge (acquired information) is the most powerful force within the universe. It is a powerful instrument that shapes human thinking and behavior. Through knowledge and wisdom, man is able to differentiate himself from other forms of life, and his fellow men in matters of social and economic existence. Knowledge therefore enables us to know who we are; what we do, where we live and our purpose in the process of existence. It is through knowledge alone that we are able to think, reason and do things that are possible and that are thought impossible. To be able to know, learn and be knowledgeable is as good as a company that owns assets to strengthen its existence and purpose. What are the mechanisms of knowledge? First, the five senses, i.e., hearing, touching, feeling, smelling, and tasting Second, language and third, the mind. If ever there is any fault in these three mechanisms, one does not need to prove his falling to the stream of endless insanity. It will become obvious to the ordinary men that a man of high intellectual capability has gone insane. But what about his thoughts or ideas? Are they insane too? What, therefore, is the test to ideas in time and existence? Simple. The ideas of other men. Once an idea or philosophy is tested through space has proven its worthiness of existence, the young and educated begin to see the light of knowledge and the powerful force accompanied by wisdom. As Plato once said, “Knowledge is the most powerful of all things”. How  true is it that any man of enormous knowledge is often feared? On the contrary too little knowledge is also dangerous --- because the bottom level of our Society, reference to Papua New Guinea, is that persons of the lower echelon resort to rascalism. Rascal activity is fast becoming a problem and a way of life in PNG. Tyranny and chaos is not far off when a nation is undergoing at its roots ---- its people, facing problems of this nature. Knowledge is therefore the most important tool to human development. Educational institutions are simply a means to acquiring knowledge, be it theoretical or practical. In whatever means education is acquired, there is no substitute for experience --- it is by far the only mode by which man puts to test his thoughts and knowledge. A young nation like Papua New Guinea must first and foremost educate her people. Bad customs and traditional practices must be eliminated that hinder education to the youth. If the youth are not educated properly and they do not have morally upright values, one would expect a morally sick and corrupt society. This nation seems to be heading in that direction where racialism seems to be taking precedence as an issue, and corruption as a common practice. Let us therefore dwell in this subject matter and consider the effects of Betelnut Chewing on the human mind, behavior, conduct and outlook to societal values and laws. Betelnut Chewing and Self-Destruction Betelnut chewing is a health hazard in as much as Smoking cause lung disease. The chewing of Betelnut has far more reaching effects on the human mind, clarity in thinking and language. Betelnut is itself an alcohol but when mixed with lime and mustard --- it is a drug that stimulates the nerves and psyches up a person to be aggressive and to some extent disillusioned. In fact the more a person chews betelnut the more that person becomes addicted to chewing. Over time, that person’s memory is eroded (Weiss, J., 1985, Effects of Betelnut on Thinking and Memory, pp26-57).
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