By ABC's Ben Collins, for The Drum
Most Australians are completely oblivious to the fact that our nation is home to some of the world's language diversity hotspots. Indigenous languages hold important stories of human history, but they are sadly in decline. As ABC's Ben Collins writes, it is now hoped that digital technology will preserve these languages and the secrets they hold.
You might think that the reach of digital technology into the most remote parts of Australia will be the final straw for Aboriginal languages, which have been in decline since European occupation, and that maybe that doesn't really matter in this modern world. But there are signs that mobile phones and the applications being designed for them could actually be the best tools yet to preserve Australia's poorly understood wealth of languages.
How many times have you heard that the reason most Australians are monolingual (over three-quarters of us) is because of our geographic isolation from languages other than English? And yet Australia is home to some of the world's language diversity hotspots.
West Arnhem Land and the Kimberley's Fitzroy Valley are areas of an extraordinary mix of Aboriginal languages. Bruce Birch, a linguist from the School of Culture, History and Language at the Australian National University, uses the more broadly known languages of Europe to illustrate the diversity we've got right here in Australia.