Compulsion in schools will not save Te Reo

Drive 15/01/2018

Te reo Maori could soon be extinct.

Historian professor Paul Moon claims it's because we're too obsessed with pronunciation.

Prof Moon joined Lloyd Burr on RadioLIVE Drive.

He says that constantly correcting people only serves to put them off trying and if we want Te Reo to survive, people have to stop being pronunciation snobs.

People get so dogmatic about it,

"'You must pronounce it this way, you must say it like that.' Those things serve to damage the language more than save it," he says.

Prof Moon says pronunciation is always going to be a challenge for many people, but there's no absolute rule with languages.

He also says that making Te Reo compulsary in schools will not save the language as there will still be no demand.

Prof Moon, whose other titles include This Horrid Practice: The Myth and Reality of Traditional Maori Cannibalism, says his own Te Reo is not good, and that exemplifies the problem.

"We teach Te Reo to our children to a reasonable level of fluency. But you go to your Te Reo class, you finish and then you're outside with your fellow students speaking English. It doesn't work."

But not all is lost - we just need to adjust our approach.

Listen to the full interview with Paul Moon above.

Drive with Lloyd Burr - in for Ali Mau, weekdays from 3pm-6pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the ROVA app on Android and iPhone.