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Articles on Indigenous languages

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Incoming Australian Greens Senator Senator Lidia Thorpe lifts one fist and carries a message stick, during a swearing-in ceremony at Parliament House, Canberra. AAP/Lukas Coch

What are message sticks? Senator Lidia Thorpe continues a long and powerful diplomatic tradition

Pre-Invasion, message sticks were sent between distant communities to maintain diplomatic relations. They demanded acknowledgement and mutual respect.
Children at Lajamanu, NT, telling sand stories in Light Warlpiri . Carmel O'Shannessy

Talking the talk: fresh Closing the Gap targets require a tailored approach to language

Strong language and culture is listed among the fresh Closing the Gap targets. But, as the latest research on speakers and learners shows, language is fundamental to well-being across the board.
Illustration by Wiehan de Jager from the story by ‘I Like to Read,’ by Letta Machoga, originally from the African Storybook project. This story is now available on Storybooks Canada in 28 languages. (African Storybook)

Global Storybooks: From Arabic to Zulu, freely available digital tales in 50+ languages

A free, open-access repository of multilingual children's stories is one response to the United Nations' urgent call to promote equitable education on the International Day of Education, January 24.
Children quickly took to the robot and developed a relationship with it. Screenshot Youtube

How a robot called Pink helped teach school children an Aboriginal language

Maitland Lutheran School, of 240 students in rural South Australia, found a way to teach children programming code and an old Aboriginal language. The answer was Pink, the robot.
Learning in their mother tongue facilitates children’s ability to learn another language. Cecil Bo Dzwowa/Shutterstock/Editorial use only

Five ways indigenous languages can be championed for learners

The International Year of Indigenous Languages serves as a good impetus to start implementing policies that prioritises Africa's own languages.
More and more Māori words are commonly used by speakers of New Zealand English. The word aroha means love or compassion. from www.shutterstock.com

Māori loanwords in NZ English are less about meaning, more about identity

Usually, a minor language will adopt words from a dominant language, but NZ English bucks this trend. It has been borrowing a growing number of Māori words, not always to add meaning but to mark identity.
November 2016 (left to right) Seraine Namundja, Donna Nadjamerrek, Julie Narndal and Cheryl Nadjalaburnburn preparing a new course in Bininj Kunwok, an Indigenous language in the Northern Territory. Provided by Cathy Bow

The state of Australia’s Indigenous languages – and how we can help people speak them more often

In 60 years' time, only 13 of Australia's Indigenous languages will be left, unless something is done to encourage children to keep speaking their language.
Angurugu mission school children in the 1940s on Groote Eylandt, NT. Missions helped both erode and preserve Indigenous languages. Groote Eylandt Linguistics

Why do so few Aussies speak an Australian language?

Australia was one of the most linguistically diverse places in the world but today, few people speak an Australian language.
Could music one day be something we experience through augmented reality, responding to the way we move through the world? Sound supplemented with colours and shapes? Mavis Wong/The Conversation NY-BD-CC

Trust Me, I’m An Expert: How augmented reality may one day make music a visual, interactive experience

Music. The Conversation67.8 MB (download)
Today, we're hearing about a researcher who records birdsong, how tech changes music and why song might help address Indigenous language loss.
Introducing rural and indigenous communities to science, through experiments and communication, is vital. Felipe Figueira

Indigenous languages must feature more in science communication

The combination of knowledge and communication, along with a few other fundamental conditions such as liberty and respect , leads to social, cultural and technological development.
A souvenir stand in the Canary Islands displaying boomerangs (on the right). fabcom/flickr

Indigenous cultural appropriation: what not to do

The production of fake First Nations art is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cultural appropriation. From 'didge therapy' to the overuse of words like 'deadly' here's a (subjective) guide to what to avoid.
Rosie Tasman Napurrurla, Warlpiri 2002, Ngurlu Jukurrpa (‘Grass Seed; Bush Grain Dreaming’), line etching on Hahnemuhle paper. Warnayaka Art Centre, Lajamanu, and Aboriginal Art Prints Network, Sydney

Jukurrpa-kurlu Yapa-kurlangu-kurlu

The theme of this year's NAIDOC week is "Our Languages Matter". Aboriginal languages under threat across Australia. Read a Warlpiri introduction to Dreamtime and The Dreaming.
Reviving languages is no easy task – it needs teachers, a staged curriculum and resources.

Reviving Indigenous languages – not as easy as it seems

The government's plan to prioritise the revival of Indigenous languages in New South Wales is a welcome first step. Truly achieving it will take several more.
Rika Hamaguchi from the Bangarra Dance Theatre performs at the culmination of the barrangal dyara exhibition. Photo Peter Greig/Kaldor Public Art Projects

Review: barrangal dyara (skin and bones) was made flesh

Jonathan Jones uses Aboriginal shields to create a skeleton of Sydney's Garden Palace, destroyed by fire in 1882. In song, dance and sculpture, he celebrates what has been lost and rediscovered.

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