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Kia ora Carl
Some advice if you have the time... I have been asked to give a paper at Uppsala on philosophy of language and autonomy. I want to focus on colonialism and use some examples from the colonial history concerning te reo Maori. I did a little research at the time of the Royal Commission in 1988 but have lost touch with the literature. Are there a couple of strategic texts you would recommend?
Nga Mihi

Kia ora Michael
You tend to get two types of writing about the language: its revitalisation; and its link to the natural or spiritual worlds – which is to do with philosophy in a particular sense, but in my view doesn’t have an eye towards the “autonomy” part you raise (i.e. isn’t cognisant enough of colonialism). The latter writing theorises around the traditional place of language, or describes it as a traditional phenomenon. I’ve been considering writing something for some time on it, but just haven’t gotten around to it.
You could discuss it in terms of how current uses of it in government policy etc. force the Maori language to become no more or no less than its English counterpart. So, for instance, language is an arbitrary (Saussure) thing that has very little in the way of “essence” in its own (autonomous) right. Terms like “whakapapa” equate precisely with “genealogy” but their interconnecting sense is lost in that translation. From a Maori belief, it could be argued that everything contains an essence, including words, and this essence precedes our interaction with language. In a way, language very much opens up a worldview, including the autonomy or essence of things in the world and their interconnectedness. pp. 101–110

MICHAEL A. PETERS
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University of Waikato;
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
CARL MIKA
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University of Waikato

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