How New Indigenous Languages Are Changing Australia

Before European colonization, as many as 300 languages were spoken on continental Australia, reflecting the cultural diversity among its original inhabitants. Today, only about 40 to 60 of these languages remain, with more than half of them no longer learned by any children. Yet the dynamic nature of language is giving some indigenous groups and [...]

By |2020-02-04T14:32:53+00:00February 4th, 2020|Australia, Indigenous languages|0 Comments

Reviving aboriginal language through literature and tech

A group of academics and indigenous language advocates are using technology and books to try to revive an endangered aboriginal language. Dr Hilary Smith is a linguist and author who has just launched a series of children's books written in the aboriginal Gamilaraay language. She's been working for the last four years in Gunnedah, north-east [...]

By |2020-01-18T17:43:25+00:00January 18th, 2020|Australia, Endangered language, Gamilaraay language|0 Comments

Researchers map ancient language in West Australian outback

Amid widespread concern about the disappearance of Indigenous languages, the former Catholic mission of Balgo is located in a linguistic melting pot that is thriving after tens of thousands of years. Now, scientists want to map the local "lingua franca" called Kukatja, which is spoken more fluently than English by residents of all ages and [...]

By |2019-12-29T13:09:55+00:00December 29th, 2019|Aboriginal languages, Australia|0 Comments

Indigenous language puzzle receives missing piece after freak find buried in old book

Caroline Hughes, who researches the Ngunnawal language of the Canberra region, made the find during a workshop last week. The words, buried in a book held in Adelaide, were drawn to her attention by a relative she met while tracing her family history. "She mentioned to me in an email last week that she'd found [...]

By |2019-09-17T14:09:05+00:00September 17th, 2019|Australia, Indigenous languages|0 Comments

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