Indigenous dictionary may save the Miriwoong language from extinction

Miriwoong is considered critically endangered — on the brink of completely disappearing — but a group in the remote Kimberley is making sure that does not happen.

The first official Miriwoong dictionary has been published by Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring (MDWg), a small language and cultural centre in Kununurra.

“It’s the language of the land and our people,” MDWg senior language consultant David Newry said.

The language is native to the Miriwoong people of the East Kimberley and Northern Territory. The remaining fluent speakers are elderly, so the dictionary is a critical step in ensuring the language survives.

The linguists and consultants at MDWg consider language as synonymous with identity. They believe saving Miriwoong will help save their connection to land and culture.

“We are just proud to be Miriwoong … we want to get our language back and teach it to other generations,” Mr Newry said.

“It describes the life around Miriwoong people and the way [we] communicate with each other, the connection that we have.

“[It] is really important for family connection.”

Read more: ABC News

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