BIG NEWS

Saturday, December 06, 2008

English is not an official language in New Zealand


Mangere MP Sua William Sio is fuming after being told he cannot be sworn into Parliament in his native language, Samoan. Some bloggers have covered this, saying that only "official" languages in this country should be used in Parliament. Samoan is spoken more frequently in Mangere than Maori is.

Whale Oil maintains that English and Maori are our official languages, David Farrar says English, Maori and sign language are our official languages.

Both are incorrect. English is not an official language in this country, never has been. English, the medium for teaching and learning in most schools, is a de facto official language by virtue of its widespread use, but is not noted as an official language. Just like civil unions are not marriages, but are defacto relationships that have legal benefits of marriage.

In any case the reason that Mangere MP cannot speak in Samoan is not because it isn’t an official language, it is, apparently, because Parliamentary Services rejected his request to be sworn in Samoan because of limited time.

Limited time for what?

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Scoopit!

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The following quote is from the Encyclopedia of NZ, run by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage (NZ government):
“New Zealand has three official languages, English, Māori and sign language. Māori became an official language in 1987. New Zealand sign language became a third official language in April 2006.” (http://www.teara.govt.nz/NewZealandInBrief/GovernmentAndNation/9/en)

NZ has 3 official languages!!

December 6, 2008 at 4:46 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Well it didn't state when english beame an official language, its a bit hard when it isnt one.The Māori Language Act 1987 and the New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006 being the relevant legislation. There is no legislation for English as an official language
As is evident

December 6, 2008 at 11:08 PM  
Anonymous G said...

What you haven't stated, Dave, is why there needs be legislation for something to be an official language.

Can it not be the case that legislation is one way there can be an official language. That it is the way Māori and New Zealand Sign Language became official languages, but that English became an official language a different way.

Perhaps, for example, by being the language we write our first laws.

December 7, 2008 at 9:58 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Yeah, well one thing I found interesting is that in the US - where they mainly speak English - or is that American - they don't even have one official language even though English was the language its first laws were written AFAIAA.

December 7, 2008 at 10:51 PM  
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