Living the Language – Australia: The Aboriginal People

living-the-language-australia-the-aboriginal-peopleThe Al Jazeera video, Living the Language – Australia: The Aboriginal People, by Paul M. Rickard, is a bit long (22 mins) but it is worth watching. I found it particularly relevant to this unit because it addresses and discusses many of our topics.

After a brief introduction, the first section of the video relates to Topic 5 and details the struggle of language renewal in Nambucca Heads, NSW, with their language, Gumbaynggirr. The last fluent speaker of Cumbaynggirr died in the 1980s, but the older generation is working to increase their knowledge of the language and it is being renewed. The Gumbaynggirr Dictionary and Learner’s Grammar was created in order to teach the language in schools and in adult language classes.

The video then moves to central Australia, where an Aboriginal man, John Kemarre Cavanagh speaks Eastern Arrente and some English. He shares about the deep connection between the language and the land, as well as his experience as part of the Stolen Generation. As discussed in Topic 5 regarding the push for Aboriginals to speak English, Cavanagh explains how he was punished with a belt and locked up for speaking even one word of Arrente, until he ran away to maintain his language and culture.

The third portion of the clip relates to Topic 9 and bilingual education. Yipirinya School in Alice Springs is an independent, non-government, bilingual and bicultural school. It was developed by Aboriginal elders in 1978 in order to teach the Northern Territory Curriculum alongside Aboriginal language and culture. Students are fluent in one of the major languages in the area – Central and Western Arrente, Luritja and Warlpiri.

Finally, the video examines some of the services offered by the Institute for Aboriginal Development, particularly their interpreting services at the hospital.

I hope that you find this video as relevant as I did.

Retrieved from

Posted by Cassie Dixon.

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