UP in the far northwestern corner of South Australia, the tiny community of Fregon is cursing its rotten luck after being pipped by two points by the Pipalyatjara Lions in the grand final last Saturday. Today at the MCG, the Hawks embark on the final step to a premiership the pundits and bookmakers say is theirs.
The link? Both teams speak the same language.
Not just the language of football: the same language, full stop.
When small forward Amos Frank was plucked by Hawthorn from the APY Lands last year, some Hawks took it upon themselves to learn a few words of their new teammate's native tongue.
It started with the Pitjantjatjara for "run" and "kick" to help Frank - who had little English when he arrived at Waverley Park as a rookie - adjust after the huge dislocation of shifting to the big smoke. It was all about the family club welcoming a new sibling.
Soon the players were linking the Pitjantjatjara to make phrases.
Now they are speaking it on the field, and might even be using it in their set plays (although this has been denied by Hawthorn).
In reminiscing her first year in the job Suzanne Taylor of ABC Open comments:
"I also embarked on the ‘Mother Tongue’ Indigenous languages pilot project, which started during NAIDOC week. I’ve been working with local communities and Eastern States Aboriginal Languages Group to produce a series of films on how language is being kept alive in their regions. So far, we’ve produced stories about the Wiradjuri language of NSW, theGunaiKurnai language of East Gippsland and the Woiwurrung language of Melbourne and north-east Victoria."
We’re all in a tizz at Fully [sic] over the new report Our Land, Our Languages. We’re usually pretty mellow when it comes to government releases but this one is worth taking up some pixel space over. It’s pretty rare that Indigenous languages (IL) get a day in the sun in such a spectacular way. The bread and butter of IL reporting most months is along the lines of “here’s a new phone app that’s going to save a language.” Sorry to rain on anyone’s parade, but phone apps don’t save languages, people do. Specifically, speakers do: the only way to “save a language” is to make it easier for people to learn and speak it, and that requires actions which are integrated through a community and which are flexible enough to cater to many different language situations. Phone apps and the like are great for what they do, but they target a particular need.
That’s why this report is so important: it recognises this fact and provides 30 recommendations for how to go about it. The recommendations cover a very broad range of activities, from language documentation to education, implications for health, interpreting programs, and increasing national recognition for Australia’s linguistic diversity. This is a great example of ‘thinking big.’ In our continued series of posts on specifics of the report, I’ll be focusing here on documentation and archiving.
The study of a language can lead to a new understanding of the world as you immerse yourself in a different culture. But what if you could do that in your own backyard?
That’s the invitation extended to the traditional owners in the Port Curtis and Coral coast region at the 2012 Immersion weekend.
The event will be held over three days at the Wyper Park Scout Camp in Bundaberg, and Phillip Brown, Central Queensland Language Centre co-ordinator says the weekend is designed to provoke discussion about local language groups, and to continue to build a framework for future education.
Daryn McKenny has been nominated to be a member of the Co-Lang Institute Advisory Circle. Co-lang was formally known as InField. Daryn has participated and taught at past InField gatherings. The Co-Lang Institute is made up of international people with the majority being Linguists and other Academics, Daryn has taken an allotted community position.
Congratulations Daryn! We look forward to hearing your updates from Co-Lang.
We must extinguish the idea of Australia as a monolingual place and there's no better place to start than in the classroom. ABC 105.7 Drive presenter Vicki Kerrigan on why all Australians should learn Aboriginal languages. Darwin sounds different. When you walk along the foreshore in Nightcliff, one of the most beautiful and popular spots in Darwin to enjoy the Arafura Sea, you can hear the difference. As you sit on the grass, under the trees which grow on the edge of the sand, you can eavesdrop on the languages of the first people of this country. Those who have travelled from north east Arnhem Land to the city might speak Yolngu Matha; those from the country north west of Alice Springs speak Warlpiri.
I am unable to distinguish between Warlpiri and Yolngu Matha and yet I can easily tell the difference between French and Spanish, or at a push the difference between Swiss German and German.
I am embarrassed to say that I am monolingual. When I travel overseas, the fact that I come from Australia is my excuse: Parlez vous Anglais, je suis Australienne. Even the French can forgive an English speaker from Australia because our island nation is just so far away from other cultures.
Yet the truth is, that is not the truth. There are hundreds of different Indigenous cultures in Australia which survive despite a constant struggle. In some communities around the Northern Territory local languages are spoken before English.
The report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs inquiry into language learning in indigenous communities, titled Our Land Our Languages, was tabled in parliament yesterday. Education was of course, a central theme of the inquiry and is a significant part of the resulting report.
The article ends with this comment: "It isn’t rocket science; it’s just common sense. Unless a child understands what’s going on in the classroom, they won’t engage, they won’t attend, and they won’t learn anything."
Sharon Grierson, Member for Newcastle, spoke in parliament on the "Our Land, Our Languages: Language Learning in Indigenous Communities" report tabled yesterday by the Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs.
"This is the culmination of much work by the committee that I've been proud to have been a part of."
The principal of Cherbourg State School, south-west of Bundaberg in southern Queensland, says it will be difficult to teach Indigenous languages in some schools.
A new report is calling on the Federal Government to introduce Indigenous language education into schools with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
Principal Peter Sansby says it is a good initiative but it may not be practical in some schools with a diverse range of students.
"In Cherbourg, for example, where the history of Cherbourg is lots of different cultures, Indigenous cultures and tribes relocating to Cherbourg, so we could be potentially teaching up to 40 different languages, so that could pose a difficult conundrum," he said.
Mr Sansby says the Wakka Wakka language was the first language spoken in Cherbourg and it is concerning that very few Indigenous people can speak it.
"I'm not aware of anybody's that's young that can actually speak the Wakka Wakka language," he said.
"I guess the first thing they'd have to do is employ some people to do some language reclamation.
"They need to start talking to the elders.
"The retirement home at Cherbourg has a number of people that do have the Wakka Wakka language but we are losing those people unfortunately too quickly."
Aboriginal languages are in danger of being wiped out in the next decade, with only 18 of an estimated 250 original languages still spoken by significant numbers of people.
Those who speak Aboriginal languages as a first language face stark disadvantage and social problems, a report has found.
After more than a year of work, Parliament's standing committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs yesterday released a wide-ranging report recommending urgent work be done to ensure as many languages as possible survive, and that speakers of those languages are not further marginalised from mainstream society.
FEDERAL School Education Minister Peter Garrett has declared he will talk to state governments about adopting bilingual education for indigenous children, arguing school attendance rates would improve if they were taught in their first language.
Parliament's standing committee on indigenous affairs released a bipartisan report yesterday calling for more action to protect endangered indigenous languages, revealed by The Australian, and recommending bilingual education.
Mr Garrett's spokeswoman said the government "welcomes this report and recognises the importance of preserving indigenous languages". "Work has already begun on the draft framework for Aboriginal languages and Torres Strait Islander languages as part of the rollout of the new national curriculum," she said.
Tony Abbott's Coalition also has backed bilingual education.
This report is different. Rather than treating Aboriginal people as a problem to be solved, or adding yet another layer of bureaucracy onto already micro-managed lives, this report is about finding solutions within communities. Many previous reports have exposed a shameful history of abuse and neglect. This time, we see case after case of people doing the best they can under extraordinarily difficult circumstances.
Language and Indigenous experts have welcomed a government report that recommends bilingual school education programs for Indigenous communities, saying it will benefit all Australians and help get some Indigenous languages off the endangered languages list.
The “Our Land Our Languages” report follows a 12-month inquiry by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs.