The Miriwoong language

As others have noted, The Guardian newspaper has been running an series on Aboriginal languages. One article concerns the Miriwoong (MiriWung) language of the eastern Kimberley, a non Pama-Nyungan language undergoing revitalisation in the face of competition from Kriol and English. The author, Glennis Galbat-Newry, writes about the recent history including relocation to Kununurra in the 1960s. She compares the importance of indigenous language preservation to studies in indigenous communities in Canada and New Zealand where retaining an indigenous language leads to fewer community problems such as rates of youth suicide – a particular problem in her region of the Kimberley.

An expanded article by the same author Newry (2002) elaborates on language features including grammar, related languages and interviews with language scholars, including with a UNE graduate (Kofod, 2002) who has co-authored a paper (Leonard, Parsons, Olawsky & Kofod, 2013) exploring the use of the language in understanding the effects of climate change.

Further information about the language is available on the Mirima website including details of an iPhone app.

Newry, G. (2002). Mirima Dawang Wooriab-Gerring language and culture centre. Ngoonjook, (21), 26-49.
Kofod, F. (1978). The Mirwung language (East Kimberley) : a phonological and morphological study. Thesis submitted for the degree of Master of Arts, University of New England.
Leonard, S., Parsons, M., Olawsky, K., & Kofod, F. (2013). The role of culture and traditional knowledge in climate change adaptation: Insights from East Kimberley, Australia. Global Environmental Change, 23623-632. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.02.012

Peter Cox LING566

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