Language revival and cultural engagement

I recently read this article http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-05/leading-the-bunganditj-language-revival/7569706 regarding Brooke Joy and her efforts to revive and pass on Bungaditj of the Boandik people in the south-east of South Australia.

Although this article is written with a positive message and rejoices in the revival program of Bunganditj, it is difficult (at least to me and likely all of my fellow LING366/556 students) to read without a pang of sadness and tragedy. Probably the most important aspect of a culture is its language. Being part of a language group gives one a sense of belonging and connection to place and history that is difficult to describe in words. The loss of most native Australian languages since British colonization and the broader squashing of culture that has taken place is a tragedy that cannot be understated.

There are now several revitalization programs and slowly but surely a development of appreciation for indigenous culture within the non-indigenous community but sadly this is far too slow a process and has come far too late for many languages and cultural identities of traditional Australia.

Hopefully, if a critical mass of appreciation within the non-indigenous community can be reached we may be able to start engaging with Australia’s heritage on a deeper level and be all the richer for it.

Imagine if all of our children across the country were engaged in programmes of the sort featured in this article. Perhaps then we could really start closing the gap.

Matthew Mulhall

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