SUVA (The Fiji Times / Pacific Media Watch): "If as much resources were devoted to an iTaukei language daily newspaper as to English language dailies, it would be successful."
This was the thesis of a paper presented by iTaukei language expert and accomplished linguist Associate Professor Paul Geraghty at the Media and Democracy conference at the University of the South Pacific last week.
In his paper, Dr Geraghty said there were possibly 500,000 first language speakers of the iTaukei in Fiji, including not only ethnic Fijians but all Melanesians and other minorities in the country.
"Yet less than 5 percent of newspapers are printed in iTaukei. Compare this with other multilingual nations like Belgium, where the language of media is roughly in proportion to speakers," Dr Geraghty said.
He said iTaukei language speakers were passively literate, however, this literacy was used infrequently in very few domains.
He said very few iTaukei language speakers had read any other iTaukei books besides the Bible and hymn books with most correspondence taking place in English.
Speaking on local iTaukei newspapers in existence, Dr Geraghty said the expectations of the public had dropped.
However, he said there was still hope if there was a concerted effort to educate for real active iTaukei language literacy in schools and invest in quality writers and iTaukei language print journalism