Radio news in Warpiri and Yolngu Matha

Last week the Australian Broadcasting Commission launched a new site called the Indigenous Language News Radio where you can listen to news broadcasts in two Australian Languages Warpiri and Yolngu Matha. This service is a 12 month trial, carried out with the help of the Aboriginal Interpreter Service in the Northern Territory. There are two ABC news bulletins recorded each weekday. The ABC states there are two main project aims: improved access to ABC news for speakers of these two languages, and celebration of the importance of language and culture in our wider community. The sound files are downloadable, and the ABC is seeking feedback on the service.

You can find some further media coverage of the story at:

In addition to the obvious benefits of this service, such as Warlpiri and Yolngu Matha speakers finally being able to hear news in their first languages, these broadcasts have a strong emblematic value. Hearing them following the rousing ABC news intro theme, which Australian audiences tend to associate with high-status well-spoken Standard Australian English, has the capacity to increase the perceived status of Warlpiri and Yolngu Matha.

As these broadcasts are about current events, they also nicely demonstrate those techniques, such as lexical borrowing, by which speakers of Aboriginal languages keep their language modern and fit for the discussion of any topic at all  – a fact that still surprises some people who think ‘modern languages’ and ‘indigenous languages’ are non-overlapping sets.

[Nick Reid 11.07.14]

Update: Greg Dickson has also just done a nice addition to this story which you can find here:

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