Norfolk Language

Share this :   | | | | |
Norfolk Language

Fieldworker, Elwyn Flint, an Australian linguist from the University of Queensland, conducted some of the first in-depth scientific investigation into the language of Norfolk Island and maintained an interest in the island for years afterward.


When Flint and his tape recorder appeared on Norfolk Island in 1957, his interlocutors already had some experience dealing with outside researchers. Word lists and glossaries like Pinney’s had appeared in print for most of the century. Anthropologist Harry Shapiro had measured and photographed their bodies and produced a glossary of some of their language during his visit in 1923. In fact, the islanders had already been tape recorded by at least one linguist. The American Polynesianist Donald Stanley Marshal visited briefly in 1951 to make his own cursory tape recordings.


Flint also found his fieldwork congenial. He wrote that he considered the Norfolk Islanders to be among the most pleasant and hospitable subjects he had ever recorded; they were, he said, “highly intelligent, linguistically conscious, and keenly interested in their own language.”

To listen to the original audio recordings… see December 2016: Issue 2