Happy NAIDOC week everyone! For anyone who would like to learn about NAIDOC week you can do so here.
As part of the week’s celebrations I was invited to attend a flag raising ceremony at a local Aboriginal land site. It was a lovely sunny day and we listened to a speech about celebrating the positives of what the Aboriginal community here in Tasmania has managed to hold onto instead of dwelling on what they have had taken from them. I am continuously impressed by the resilience of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. As we were leaving the flag raising site I overheard a member of the Aboriginal community discussing the Tasmanian language situation with a person who I believe is of non-Aboriginal descent…’Well, it is a reconstructed language, but its ours‘. The pride in his voice was great and it was obvious that having a language that has been reconstructed from historical records and borrowings serves the purpose of community identity, solidarity and knowledge transmission.
Another Australian language that has undergone the reconstruction process is Kaurna from the Adelaide Plains area in South Australia. Fortunately for Kaurna, the historical sources were fairly well documented and consistent. This was mostly due to the work of two German missionaries who, by 1839, had opened a school that taught literacy in Kaurna. Despite this promising start, the government soon enforced an English Only policy and the language fell out of daily use by the 1860s.
Kaurna is now taught at the Kaurna Plains school and the School of Languages based in Adelaide. A case study unit of the language is available at the University of Adelaide. Its reconstruction has obviously been a great success! You can visit the Kaurna Warra Pintyandi website for more information about the language such as its phonology, orthography, area where it is spoken and word lists.