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Phone app helps save indigenous language

SMARTPHONE applications may hold the key to protecting endangered indigenous languages.

A project team on Croker Island in remote northwestern Arnhem Land worked with Bruce Birch, a linguist from the Australian National University, to develop a smartphone dictionary application called Ma! Iwaidja (pronounced "ee-WHY-jah").

The application includes a 1500-entry English-Iwaidja dictionary with audio, a 450-entry phrase book and an information section about Iwaidja and other endangered languages of Arnhem Land.

"The app becomes a living, constantly developing repository and capture device for a language that is otherwise losing ground fast," Mr Birch said.

Review: Dirtsong

Review by Michael Dwyer for the Brisbane Times. 4.5 stars

GREAT leveller, dirt. Scratch any surface and we're all in it together. In spite of the divisions and inequities implied by 11 endangered Aboriginal languages unearthed for an overwhelmingly English-speaking audience, the strength of Dirtsong is its profound essence of something shared.

The Black Arm Band is currently performing Dirtsong at the Melbourne recital Centre .

Mr Mills travels to Garma

A Crikey article by Bob Gosford which quotes a speech the new Northern Territory Chief Minister, Terry Mills, made at the Yujuwala Garma Key Forum.

"In order for us to deliver a quality education at a school like Yirrkala, the respect for the language that is spoken before coming into the school is essential. In order for the early years to be established properly there needs to be the full respect for the language that is spoken at home and bought into the classroom … You don’t go from the known to the unknown without having proper resourcing around the home language in the classroom. I have offered – and I had a meeting with those who are associated with the school to say that “I’m open for business there, I understand the importance of language.”

As a former educator [I know] you can’t effectively teach English unless you use the language that is brought into the classroom. If that means bilingual, for some, that’s what that means. That’s the way I approach it – I have a language background."

Read the full article.

Lunch with Lou Bennett

An article in the AGE.

PART-WAY through lunch with Lou Bennett, the singer finishes a mouthful of Peking duck and sets about naming everything on the table in Yorta Yorta, snippets of which she heard while growing up in Echuca. The pancakes we're eating are being kept warm in a steamer; the flicker of the flame underneath it is ''alinta'', the fire ''bitja'' (which also means firing a gun), duck is ''naikah'', the water in our glasses is ''walla''. The rain falling outside is ''gorkarra'' and the wind lashing it against the window is ''banga'', words that, when spoken by Bennett, seem immeasurably more poetic and evocative than their English equivalents.

Sounds of then: This is Australia

A radio program by Michael Vincent, for ABC AM.

Just as important manuscripts, paintings and other items of Australian culture are collected and promoted, so too the audio or sounds of this nation. Today 10 very different recordings will be added to the National Registry of Recorded Sound bringing the total to 64 items. They include music as diverse as AC/DC and Jimmy Little as well as historic radio dramas and over a thousand hours of Indigenous languages.

Listen to the program (4 mins approx)

Assembly adopts languages bill

Cape Town - The use of official languages bill will make a massive contribution towards promoting multilingualism, Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile said on Tuesday.

Speaking in the National Assembly during debate on the bill, he said it was aimed at ensuring that the government elevated the status of especially indigenous languages and promoted their widespread use.

Assembly adopts languages bill.

New literacy systems shine

By KATE MCILWAIN, Illawarra Mercury.

Aboriginal language lessons and a new discipline system have helped kids at Kemblawarra Public School shine amid the otherwise dire state of indigenous literacy in NSW.

At Kemblawarra, Aboriginal students’ NAPLAN test results rose from below average in 2009 to well above those of students in statistically similar schools in 2011.

Principal Eleanor Thompson said this had been due to personalised and regularly updated learning plans developed with children and parents, a specialist Aboriginal education officer and a Wadi Wadi indigenous language class offered to all students from preschool to year 6.

Read the full article.

Far west helps spread indigenous language

By Margaret Paul, ABC Broken Hill

An indigenous language teacher from far west New South Wales says she is looking forward to sharing language skills with people in northern Victoria.

The Paakantyi language circle is holding a workshop at the Two Rivers College in Mildura today.

Kayleen Kerwin is from Menindee and she says it is great to get down and visit Paakantyi people from further south.

Read the full story

“I’m a Queenslander too!”

“I’m a Queenslander too!”  said Mr. Michael Bryce AM AE as he stepped up for a photo with the QILAC members who attended a reception at Government House in Canberra.  

The event, held during NAIDOC week was to honour Indigenous languages and the Elders who have worked to keep them alive over the past 30 years.

Read more: “I’m a Queenslander too!”

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