Motu, Hiri

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A language of Papua New Guinea

Alternate Names
Hiri, Pidgin Motu, Police Motu
Population

Very few L1 speakers (1992 T. Dutton). L2 users: 120,000 (1989 J. Holm).

Location

Central Province, Port Moresby area; Oro, Central, Gulf, Milne Bay and Western provinces.

Language Status

3 (Wider communication).Used long before European contact by participants in the Hiri trade cycle between the Motu people and their neighbors on the south east coast of the island of New Guinea. Since about 1970 the use of Hiri Motu as a lingua franca has been declining in favor of English [eng] and Tok Pisin [tpi]; speakers are mostly older adults and concentrated in Central Province and Gulf Province.

Dialects

Austronesian Hiri Motu, Papuan Hiri Motu. Linguistically a pidginization of Motu [meu]. Influenced by English [eng], Tok Pisin [tpi], and Polynesian languages. Cannot understand Motu due to phonological and grammatical differences. Lexical similarity: 90% with Motu [meu].

Language Use

Used as L2 by Abadi [kbt], Aneme Wake [aby], Bariji [bjc], Baruga [bjz], Bauwaki [bwk], Binahari [bxz], Buhutu [bxh], Dawawa [dww], Dibiyaso [dby], Dima [jma], Dobu [dob], Domu [dof], Doromu-Koki [kqc], Ese [mcq], Fuyug [fuy], Grass Koiari [kbk], Gweda [grw], Haigwai [hgw], Humene [huf], Kakabai [kqf], Kaki Ae [tbd], Kaninuwa [wat], Koitabu [kqi], Korafe-Yegha [kpr], Lala [nrz], Magori [zgr], Maiwa [mti], Maiwala [mum], Miniafia Oyan [aai], Moikodi [mkp], Morawa [mze], Mountain Koiali [kpx], Mubami [tsx], Nawaru [nwr], Ninggerum [nxr], Ömie [aom], Orokaiva [okv], Samo [smq], Sinaugoro [snc], Suki [sui], Tairuma [uar], Tawala [tbo], Turumsa [tqm], Uare [ksj], Wa’ema [wag], Wagawaga [wgb], Yareba [yrb].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: Below 5%. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible: 1994.
Writing

Braille script [Brai]. Latin script [Latn], primary usage.

Other Comments

The Papuan dialect was adopted as the standard for official publications.