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Analysis and Comment (12)

Indigenous youth are creating new languages, something that is very rare across the globe. Flickr/Rusty Stewart

While old Indigenous languages disappear, new ones evolve

By now we know that traditional Indigenous languages are losing speakers rapidly and tragically. Of the 250 languages once spoken in Australia, only 40 remain and just 18 of these are still learnt by children…
Leader of the pack: Djalu Gurruwiwi of the Galpu clan leads younger performers at the 2013 Garma Festival in Arnhem Land. AAP Image/Youthu Yindi Foundation

Listen to your elders: inviting Aboriginal parents back to school

Tony Abbott is spending this week in North East Arnhem Land, part of his long-held hope “to be not just the Prime Minister but the Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs”. We asked our experts: what stories…
Indigenous languages won’t survive if Indigenous kids don’t have the opportunity to speak their native languages at school. AAP

Indigenous languages won’t survive if kids are learning only English

The question of what language(s) to teach Indigenous students, what languages to teach them in, and how to go about it has been generating a little political heat (but not quite so much light) of late…
The new radio service will benefit residents of Warlpiri Country, in the Northern Territory. Rusty Stewart

The ABC’s Aboriginal news service is a sound idea

Some 40 years ago, on any remote island in the Arafura Sea, that stretch of water between Darwin and Papua New Guinea, if a group of Yolŋu were living on country for more than a few days there would be…
Are Australian policymakers trapped in a monolingual mindset? Katie Tegtmeyer

Muting Indigenous language support only widens the gap

Indigenous languages are under attack yet again. The federal budget, released on May 13, includes a substantial reduction of A$9.5 million over four years for the Indigenous Languages Support Programme…
The resources housed in the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages include educational materials for children. Fiona Morrison/Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages

Some vital signs for Aboriginal languages

Attitudes and policies relating to Australian Indigenous languages are in a state of flux. The Northern Territory government is reportedly again aiming to banish Aboriginal languages from the classroom…
Can language nests revive endangered Indigenous languages? AAP/Tara Ravens

Language nests: a way to revive Indigenous languages at risk

More than 90% of Australia’s Indigenous languages are critically endangered and two-thirds of those languages spoken a hundred years ago are now dormant. The seeds of the current situation were sown long…
Augustine, one of the few remaining speakers of Tembé, recording a story using an Android phone. Steven Bird

Androids in Amazonia: recording an endangered language

The village of Akazu’yw lies in the rainforest, a day’s drive from the state capital of Belém, deep in the Brazilian Amazon. Last week I went to Akazu’yw, carrying a dozen Android phones with a specialised…
Endangered languages are being preserved using cheap mobile phones. Steven Bird

Cyberlinguistics: recording the world’s vanishing voices

Of the 7,000 languages spoken on the planet, Tembé is at the small end with just 150 speakers left. In a few days, I will head into the Brazilian Amazon to record Tembé – via specially-designed technology…
A new parliamentary report has called for urgent action to protect Indigenous languages. Flickr/Rusty Stewart

The chance of a lifetime to save Indigenous languages

It is not often that the opportunity comes along to make a real difference, but a new report into Indigenous languages in Australia has the potential to do just that. Our Land, Our Languages has already…

Research and News (1)

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