In­dige­nous lan­guage en­dan­gered

Pilbara News - - News - Tom Zaun­mayr

The mo­men­tum and work on lan­guages has in­creased in re­cent years, but it should have com­menced maybe 50 years ago to have a real im­pact on the level of lan­guage loss. Lorraine In­jie

In­dige­nous lan­guages in the Pil­bara could be com­pletely lost in the next two gen­er­a­tions if pro­grams to record them are not suc­cess­ful, ac­cord­ing to in­dige­nous lead­ers gath­ered in Roe­bourne last week.

This was the hard pill to swal­low Wangka Maya Pil­bara Abo­rig­i­nal Lan­guage Cen­tre vice-chair­woman Lorraine In­jie told at­ten­dees at the Pil­bara Abo­rig­i­nal Lan­guages Expo held at the Ngurin Cul­tural Cen­tre last week.

The over­whelm­ing mes­sage at the gath­er­ing, how­ever, was op­ti­mism in the re­newed push by sev­eral or­gan­i­sa­tions and teach­ers to record the lan­guages and teach them to the chil­dren.

Janet Stewart is one of those teach­ers at the front­line of en­sur­ing her lan­guage, Nyangu­marta, con­tin­ues on in the young gen­er­a­tion.

Along­side Kayleen Arnold, Mrs Stewart teaches her lan­guage to chil­dren at South Hed­land Pri­mary School.

“For us, Abo­rig­i­nal lan­guage is hard to teach these days be­cause of English be­ing used at home,” she said.

“The kids have fun learn­ing though, they’re re­ally ea­ger to learn.

“They get re­ally proud of what they said in a sen­tence which made me feel good too.”

Mrs Stewart said there should be more lan­guage speak­ers at places like schools where kids learn.

Ms In­jie said there were only three lan­guage groups left in the Pil­bara where chil­dren spoke it as a first lan­guage.

“The mo­men­tum and work on lan­guages has in­creased in re­cent years, but it should have com­menced maybe 50 years ago to have a real im­pact on the level of lan­guage loss,” she said.

“This meet­ing en­ables peo­ple who have lin­guis­tic and cul­tural knowl­edge to come to­gether and share in­for­ma­tion about new ways of trans­mit­ting Abo­rig­i­nal lan­guages and more im­por­tantly to un­der­stand how much lan­guage has been lost since Euro­pean oc­cu­pa­tion.”

Ms In­jie said the turnout demon­strated the com­mit­ment peo­ple had to pre­serv­ing in­dige­nous lan­guage and cul­ture in the Pil­bara.

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