Precious documents: 1840s children’s letters and contemporary children’s book.

Today I came across two separate articles about written records of two different Australian languages. The documents are separated by a century and a half; with the earlier written by children from Kaurna country and the contemporary written for Warrgamay children.

What unites these two is the meaning and value that they have for their communities.

The first article celebrates the return of letters written in Kaurna to their home country from Germany, where they were sent by children in 1843. These letters are “three of just five known surviving documents” of written Kaurna from the 19th century. In addition to being important artefacts for linguistic and historic study, they provide a “tangible connection” for Kaurna people to their ancestors.

In the second, two Warrgamay sisters have collaborated on series of children’s books written in English and Warrgamay, to help children, their families, and their schools in the teaching and learning of their language. The books are intended to “give physical value” to the language – a precious artefact children can see, touch and read. Watch the sisters talk about the books and a young Warrgamay girl read one of the stories in the video below.

By Anna Friedlander, LING366.

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