FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND - The 29th Australia-Papua New Guinea ministerial forum in Canberra yesterday, co-chaired by Justin Tkatchenko and Senator Penny Wong, featured a stellar line-up of ministers from both countries.
The official communique, which you can read here, details the outcomes of the five key issues discussed at the forum it which 16 Papua New Guinean and 12 Australian ministers took part.
There was a televised press conference following the forum at which Australia’s foreign minister Penny Wong and Papua New Guinea’s deputy prime minister John Rosso and foreign minister Justin Tkatchenko fronted the media.
I found the press conference extremely interesting and it reflected that the forum had been very productive – a great tribute to all those involved.
But you can imagine my utter dismay to hear Ms Wong, in my opinion our best foreign affairs minister in a long time, consistently mispronounce Papua. (As you might expect, the PNG ministers’ pronunciation was perfect!)
I don’t think this is a trivial matter.
Papua is never, ever pronounced Pap (as in clap)-you'uh. The mispronunciation really grates.
Surely the Australian foreign affairs bureaucrats in the protocol branch have experts who can advise our representatives on correct pronunciation.
Keith Jackson tells me that the ABC once had a Standing Committee on Spoken English consisting of experts who would meet and agree on correct pronunciation.
Their conclusions would be mandated for the organisation’s news readers and announcers.
SCOSE, as it was known, was disbanded years ago – and you can tell.
I guess Fiji's main airport, Nadi, which is pronounced ‘Nandi’, trips up many people.
Poor old Papua also cops errors in its written form – Papa and Papau being fairly common representations.
Ian spent 40 of the past 50 years continuously living in PNG, largely within 90 km of Samarai, including seven years in two villages