History was made when the Yugambeh language learning app was launched in 2013 by the Yugambeh Museum, Language and Heritage Research Centre. It features over 1000 words and phrases collected from John Allen (Bulam), a Wangerriburra man, who spoke the language as a child. The app allows a much wider audience to access the Yugambeh language than ever before.
School Teacher, Gary Crosby, reports that because many of the Teachers do not speak Yugambeh, the students actively use the language to communicate secretly!
Yugambeh, which is a dialect of Bundjalung, was spoken throughout South East Queensland and northern New South Wales. Groups of speakers were still around as late as the 1950s. The Bundjalung group of languages has undergone a revitalisation process, and has been taught to community groups and schools for many years. Although there is a lack of native speaker teachers, the language data available from historical records has made it possible for linguist Margaret Sharpe to author a Bundjalung language course in 1991 (Sharpe, 1993).
The Yugambeh language can also be heard being used in during cultural events such as corroborees and the Yugambeh Mobo. The inclusive nature of these events encourages a wider audience to experience and enjoy the language and knowledge generously given by the Yugambeh people.
Significantly, community events of this nature encourage the authentic use of the Yugambeh language and enable students to use the language outside of the classroom. Realistically, students will not achieve a high level of functionality in Yugambeh from a LOTE program, but it does lay the foundations for an ongoing commitment to keeping knowledge of the language alive.
So go on, download the Yugambeh language app and revel in the opportunity to learn an old language in a new way!
The app can be downloaded here.
Sharpe, M. (1993). Bundjalung: Teaching a disappearing language. (pp. 73-84). In Language and Culture in Aboriginal Australia. Canberra, A.C.T: Aboriginal Studies Press.