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Clear focus on Indigenous languages is rather fuzzy

Greg Dickson writes:

The Federal Government is nearly one year into a national inquiry into Indigenous languages. I spent a whole day this week working hard listening live to the Darwin hearing of the inquiry, officially titled “Language Learning in Indigenous Communities”. The hearing was gripping stuff (well, for me anyway) with a really interesting range of people giving evidence to the committee. If you haven’t heard of the inquiry – and I doubt many have – taking time to read some of the submissions and hearings transcripts will be worth your while.

The NT Government were first in giving evidence at the Darwin hearing. It was an important moment for the inquiry as the parliamentary committee has received many submissions and much evidence criticising the NT Education’s limiting of Indigenous language instruction in schools, restrictions on Indigenous language literacy programs and a policy dictating the “Compulsory Teaching in English for the First Four Hours of Each School Day“.

Read the full article from the Crikey's Language Blog

The importance of supporting endangered languages

Yesterday on Radio Australia, Phil Kafcaloudes interviewed linguists Vaso Elefsiniotis, Simon Musgrave, and Ghil’ad Zuckerman about Australia’s endangered languages. Phil asks some tough but good questions, revolving around a central theme that I’ve heard many times before; why we should be ‘preserving’ or ‘maintaining’ these languages when no one is speaking them, to which Zuckerman in particular replies with compelling and concise answers.

They also discuss the importance of language in one’s identity, particularly for aboriginal people, the cognitive advantages of bi- and multilingualism and the huge linguistic diversity within the Australian/South-East Asian/South Pacific region.

It’s an important moral and ethical discussion and is well worth the 20 minutes.

Aiden Wilson on Crikey's language blog.

What does cheese have to do with preserving languages?

Three linguists liken saving endangered languages to preserving the variety of cheeses. Reclamation and maintainance of languages can result in cultural diversity and pride. Listen to the full interview here. (Credit: ABC)

There are approximately 7,000 languages spoken worldwide today, but half of these languages are predicted to extinct by the end of this century. According to UNESCO experts, a language dies out every 14 days.

A report on Radio Australia

'I realised the power of words and reading' State's first Aboriginal teacher on the importance of literacy

Removed from her family when she was five year old, Mrs O'Brien grew up at Mount Margaret, a Lutheran mission in the northern goldfields. She became WA's first Aboriginal school teacher and rose to become the state superintendent of Aboriginal education, retiring in 1988.

She now advocates for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, which aims to bring books to children in remote communities.

She had to learn and speak English at the mission school, but never stopped speaking her own language, Wongutha, and in 1992 she published four bi-lingual story books for children on traditional teachings.

Read the full ABC article by Emma Wynne

Australian Indigenous languages at top of threatened list

Linguistic analysts predict that 90% of the world's languages will disappear by the end of this century. Topping the threatened list are Australian Indigenous languages.

Only 20 of an original 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages are still widely spoken.

Adelaide University linguistics Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann says they should be better recognised as part of Australia's heritage.

He says it is critical that Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander languages are not lost in the same way as Hebrew, which died out as a spoken language almost 2000 years ago. However, it was revived in the 1880s.

I often wonder why so many people are so afraid of pandas disappearing, and they couldn't care less about language," Professor Zuckermann said.

"Without a language, you do not have cultural autonomy, you do not have intellectual sovereignty, you do not have culture, you do not have heritage."

A Radio New Zealand article

A game of many worlds

SHARONA Bishop will make her debut for St Albans in the Victorian Women's Football League today, and she's nervous. She is the only indigenous footballer in her team and one of very few in the league, and calling for the ball in English, her eighth language, feels different.

''It's kind of new to me playing with non-indigenous women. I'm the only indigenous woman on the team and it's a bit scary but the girls were really welcoming, and I thought, 'I may as well give it a go'.''

''I feel so black, I'm not being rude,'' she said. ''But I'm someone who goes with the flow. It's hard to speak in English to yell out to the girls, 'I'm here, I'm here,' whereas at home I am used to speaking in my own language. I don't talk too much. I smile and stay behind the pack, watch what they do.

Read the full article by Chloe Slater in The Age

Call to protect dying Indigenous Australian languages

Linguists say there is a critical need to preserve Indigenous Australian languages that are in danger of dying out. A University of Adelaide professor is urging people to help preserve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages before this important part of Australia's heritage disappears.

Research shows that up to 90 per cent of the world's 7,000 languages could be lost by the end of the century.

Of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, only 20 from of an original 250 are still widely spoken.

Linguistics professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann, from Adelaide University, says they should be better recognised as part of the country's heritage.

A Radio Australia report.

Australian linguicide

ABC 612am. DRIVE. 10 April 2012 , 4:08 PM by Peter Gooch

It's not a record to be proud of, but Australia appears to be world champions at linguicide, the killing of languages. Out of an estimated 250 spoken by indigenous people only 20 are now in common usage. Linguistics professor GHIL'AD ZUCKERMANN is urging Australians to join a global movement designed to revive endangered tongues.

Reporter TERRI BEGLEY talks with indigenous language expert, Des Crump.

Only 10 per cent of world’s languages left by 2100

Linguistic analysts predict that 90 per cent of the world’s languages will disappear by the end of this century and topping the threatened list are Australian Indigenous languages.

Adelaide University’s linguistics professor Ghil’ad Zuckermann is urging the Australian community to preserve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, saying they should be better recognised as part of the country’s heritage.

Nance Haxton reported this story for AM, Radio National, on Tuesday, April 10, 2012, with Leonora Adidi.

Strait Talking

Article by Living Black – 9 April 2012

As the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander languages in use dwindles there’s one Indigenous language that’s growing Yumplatok, Stefan Armbruster reports from the Torres Strait.

Team approach to NILS planning at AIATSIS

Eastern States Group members were part of the Reference Group called to discuss the planning of the National Indigenous Languages Survey 2, with the Indigenous Languages team at AIATSIS recently. With many points to consider in drafting a ‘user friendly’ document, AIATSIS has involved some members who were familiar with the initial NILS survey in 2005.

At the meeting in AIATSIS were; Kara Young, Kazuko Obata, Doug Marmion, Faith Baisden(ESALG) , Rhonda Smith, Kevin Lowe (ESALG) and Jeanie Bell.

The Applied Linguistics Association of Australia (ALAA) 2012 Conference – Perth, 12, 13, 14 November

The Applied Linguistics Association of Australia (ALAA) is the national organisation for applied linguistics in Australia. ALAA aims to provide leadership in applied linguistics and supports the development of teaching, learning and research in the field. ALAA includes national and international members and is affiliated with the Association Internationale de Linguistique Appliquée (AILA).

The Applied Linguistics Association of Australia (ALAA) 2012 Conference – Perth, 12, 13, 14 November

‘Evolving Paradigms: Language and Applied Linguistics in a Changing World’

For further details see the ALAA website.

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