Essay in “The Monthly” September 2014: Voices of the Land

An Israeli linguist, Professor Ghil’ad Zuckermann from the University of Adelaide, is working with the Barngarla people to help reclaim their language. It was once spoken throughout the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, but had no fluent speakers by the 1960s.

A key artefact to reclaiming the lost Barngarla language is a dictionary compiled by a Lutheran missionary in 1844. Snippets of the original language have also been passed down by some members of the Stolen Generations, but mostly devoid of meaning or context.

There are now Barngarla workshops held in Port Augusta, Whyalla and Port Lincoln several times a year; they are impromptu language classrooms but also a place for collaboration and decision-making to revive a dormant language and “finding words for a new world”.

This is a colourfully written, personality-driven piece of writing: highly recommended.

Kelly Douglas LING366.

This entry was posted in Language Endangerment, Language Revival. Bookmark the permalink.

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