Australia’s Ancient Language Shaped by Sharks

The tiger shark was having a really bad day. Other sharks and fish were picking on him and he was fed up. After fighting them, he met up with the hammerhead shark and some stingrays at Vanderlin Rocks in the waters of Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria to speak of their woes before they set out [...]

By |2019-05-15T18:01:36+00:00May 15th, 2019|Australia, Language|0 Comments

Millennial Aboriginal Australians Have Developed Their Own Language

Millennials, in a way, are a firmly bilingual group, thanks in no small part to “textspeak.” With the rise of Web 2.0 at the turn of 21st century, instant messaging slang and the bevy of acronyms that resulted have become a de facto marker of age, if not cool-factor. Down under, in the remote village [...]

By |2018-10-12T10:04:04+00:00October 12th, 2018|Aboriginal, Australia, Language, Warlpiri|0 Comments

Explainer: how Tasmania’s Aboriginal people reclaimed a language, palawa kani

Truganini’s death in Hobart in May 1876 attracted worldwide attention. She was widely, but wrongly, believed to have been the last Aboriginal person to have survived the Tasmanian genocide. Her demise symbolised the devastating impacts of British imperialism on Indigenous peoples. Yet Tasmanian Aboriginal people continue to live on the Bass Strait Islands, in rural [...]

By |2018-07-19T10:38:09+00:00July 19th, 2018|Australia, Language, Tasmania|0 Comments

Gurrumul and Indigenous languages offer windows into Australia’s past and present

There’s a scene towards the end of the film Gurrumul, directed by Paul Daniel Williams screening in cinemas now, that stays with me. Set in a record store, somewhere in the United States, we hear innocuous guitar strumming in the background as people obliviously browse albums. Then vocals. In an instant, everyone stops, puts down [...]

By |2018-07-06T10:34:22+00:00July 6th, 2018|Australia, Gurrumul, Indigenous languages|0 Comments

How AI is helping preserve Indigenous languages

Australia's Indigenous population is rich in linguistic diversity, with over 300 languages spoken across different communities. Some of the languages can be as distinct as Japanese is to German. But many are at risk of becoming extinct because they are not widely accessible and have little presence in the digital space. Professor Janet Wiles is [...]

Bringing back Languages from Scraps of Paper

In 1904 Daisy Bates, an Irish-Australian journalist and ethnographer, sent out a questionnaire to squatters, police, and other authorities across Western Australia asking them to record examples of the local Aboriginal language. Mrs Bates (1859-1951) was something of an eccentric – wearing full Edwardian outfits even when living in small tents in Aboriginal camps – [...]

By |2018-05-29T15:29:17+00:00May 29th, 2018|Aboriginal languages, Australia, Daisy Bates|0 Comments

Australia’s taste for translated literature is getting broader, and that’s a good thing

With today’s announcement of the winner of the Man Booker International Prize shortlist, translation again finds itself in the foreground of the literary landscape. This year’s shortlist includes novels translated from a diverse array of languages including Arabic (Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi), Hungarian (László Krasznahorkai’s The World Goes On) and Korean (The White [...]

By |2018-05-22T12:48:08+00:00May 22nd, 2018|Australia, Language, Translated literature|0 Comments

Calls for national legislation to protect Indigenous languages in Australia

Craig Ritchie, CEO of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), suggests Australia could follow in the footsteps of New Zealand, which introduced the Māori Language Act in 1987, thereby giving Māori official language status. "Under that, every government agency has an obligation to make sure that the work that they [...]

By |2018-03-07T14:12:45+00:00March 7th, 2018|Australia, Indigenous languages, Language|0 Comments

Linguists digitise 1970s children’s storybooks to help preserve Indigenous languages

During this time, bilingual education programs were rolled out in remote schools throughout the Northern Territory, allowing schoolchildren to read and write in their native languages before transitioning to reading and writing in English. Thousands of unique, entry-level children's books, often based on local stories and illustrated by local artists, were created in Indigenous languages. [...]

By |2018-02-22T00:27:10+00:00October 30th, 2017|Australia, Education, Indigenous languages|0 Comments

Indigenous verse in national anthem considered to preserve Aboriginal languages

The NSW Government's Aboriginal Affairs Department has been on a statewide roadshow consulting 14 different Indigenous communities on the draft Aboriginal Language Bill. The landmark legislation is the first of its kind and will set out to promote and protect Aboriginal languages as well as provide legal preservation. Places that have been consulted so far [...]