Jaky Troy: awakening Australia’s sleeping languages

Chapter 3 of our textbook is a paper by Dr Jakylin Troy entitled Language Contact in Early Colonial NSW. Dr Troy is a linguist, and a Research Professor at Sydney University. Previously she was a Director at AIATSIS, and she studied linguistics under Professor Michael Walsh at ANU. Her fascination with Indigenous languages was awaked when she spent time in Arnhem Land – amazed by all the different languages she encountered.

Dr Troy was interviewed recently on the ABC in Conversations with Richard Fidler, and broadcast on Radio National on July 8th. The show was called ‘Jaky Troy: awakening Australia’s sleeping languages’ with the by-line ‘Jaky is on a mission to reinvigorate Australia’s Indigenous languages’. Dr Troy describes herself as a Ngarigu woman, from the NSW Snowy Mountains region. Ngarigu is a language on the brink of extinction, but Dr Troy is doing her best to revive it, which includes the long process of learning it herself. She says she likes to think of Indigenous languages as not dead, but sleeping.

This is a fascinating interview, and as a linguist Dr Troy touches on a lot of the areas we are covering. For instance she explains, in very accessible terms, the difference between Australian languages and dialects; taboo words; and kinship relationships as they affect Indigenous languages. Mostly she recounts interesting stories on the language situation in Australia at the time of first white contact.


The interview goes for a little over 50 minutes. Towards the end she tells a very moving story about the first time she spoke in Ngarigu in front of an audience – and what that meant to her.

Karel Royle


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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s