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Here’s a Book with a Difference for Reo Māori Learners

Here’s a Book with a Difference for Reo Māori Learners

The author of an unusual new book is hoping to use humour to inspire people to learn some reo Māori. Unlike many traditional courses, Teach your Dog Māori (Y Lolfa) shows that learning useful phrases doesn’t have to be either boring or daunting, and makes picking up a few basics accessible to everyone.

Every phrase is shown in both reo Māori and English, accompanied by appealing 1950s-style retro illustrations as well as help with the reo Māori pronunciation. There are over 60 expressions to practise, from Kaua e rapi (‘Don’t scratch’) to Kāore e roa (‘I won’t be long’). It’s an excellent and really fun introduction to learning reo Māori for all ages – and most of the phrases can also be used in non-dog related situations!

The book is part of a series designed to help you learn a language while engaging with your favourite furry friend, and was inspired by illustrator Anne Cakebread’s bestseller Teach Your Dog Welsh (2018).

“I want to help promote language-learning, especially languages such as Māori and Welsh as they are of huge cultural and emotional value as well as being important to communities,” says author and illustrator Anne Cakebread.

The inspiration for the original book came to Anne after she re-homed Frieda, a rescue whippet. Anne came to realise that Frieda didn’t understand English and would only respond to Welsh commands. Slowly, whilst dealing with Frieda, Welsh-learner Anne realised that she was overcoming her nerves about speaking Welsh aloud by talking to the dog, and her Welsh was improving as a result – this gave her the idea of creating books to help other would-be language learners whilst also using her skills as an illustrator.

Summoning up the confidence to use a language you’re learning can be intimidating at first. A number of books are available to help with vocabulary and pronunciation, but the light-hearted context and the beautiful illustrations mean that this book is a bit out of the ordinary. It will especially appeal to people who haven’t had much success with languages in the past.

Carolyn Hodges, Head of English Publishing at Y Lolfa, who developed market-leading language-teaching materials for Oxford University Press for many years, said: “One of the key factors in motivating someone to start learning and using a new language is to make it enjoyable.”

The book is intended to help reo Māori learners, tourists and people who are completely new to te reo Māori. Hēmi Kelly, of the Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tahu, Ngāti Whāoa tribes in Aotearoa (New Zealand) provided all the translations for the book. Hēmi works as a reo Māori lecturer, teacher, writer and licensed translator, and is well known for his work in reo Māori revitalisation.

“It’s about revitalising the language of the original inhabitants and of minority languages,” said Anne Cakebread, adding, “We’ve also published Cornish, Gaelic and Irish versions.”

Anne Cakebread is a freelance illustrator with over 20 years’ experience in publishing and TV set design, including cover art and illustrations for numerous books, magazines and adverts. She grew up and went to school in Cardiff and now lives with her partner, two whippets and lurcher in St Dogmaels, Wales, where they run the Oriel Milgi boutique B&B. Anne also runs Canfas, an art gallery in nearby Cardigan.

Teach your Dog Māori by Anne Cakebread (£5.99, Y Lolfa) is available now. An e-book version is also available.

© Scoop Media

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