The Lihir group of islands, located in New Ireland Province of Papua New Guinea, is home to the Lihir language. The main island, Aniolam, has been the site of a major gold-mining operation since 1995. The mine and its attendant economic development have ushered in a period of dramatic social and political change. Lihirians are acutely aware of the changes to their cultural heritage and in particular the need to safeguard the Lihir language.
The main part of this book is the English translation of a linguistic document that comprehensively describes all grammatical aspects of the Lihir language. Written in the early 1930s by the German priest, ethnographer, and linguist Karl Neuhaus (1884-1944), this document depicts the language at that time and combines an analytical description of the language with ethnographic observations about its speakers and comparisons to related languages. Karl Neuhaus spent well over thirty years in New Ireland, which is testament to his thorough understanding of the people and language of the Lihir Islands. As such, this publication is the most important document on the Lihir language to date, through its historical relevance and its potential as a focal point for the future preservation of the language.
The original German text has been translated and edited by Simon Ziegler. This is complemented by introductory articles from Nicholas Bainton, Malcolm Ross, Luke Kabariu, Don Niles, and Simon Ziegler providing additional information on the Lihir language and the publication of this book. Photographs from the 1930s and today form Nick Bainton and David Haigh supplement the text. The translation of the German text into English has been supported by the Lihir Cultural Heritage Association. The printing and distribution of the book have been funded by the Lihir Sustainable Development Plan.
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