You arrive at camp only to find you there are elders from a far off group and you need an icebreaker. Your laptop takes too long to boot and you only have a few minutes to come up with a few words to help build bridges. What are you going to do?
There’s an app for that.
Yugambeh Museum just south of Brisbane have released an app, a kind of talking dictionary of seven Aboriginal languages with a few extras. While containing only brief notes on grammar, there’s a list section where categories of words can be seen and heard, such as “family members” “body parts” and various creatures. I saw Jessica Mauboy say in Jingeri “Hi” on a Youtube link. A nice fresh connection to an Australian language.
Such a quick access for anyone to hear and see unfamiliar pronunciations of common words is a real drawcard for this resource, and bodes well for the future for this kind of language learning technology. Having used the Duolingo app I can say that languages can become living in your home when one plays and imitates unique sound landscapes. A great place to start for the curious.
This is also a prompt to advocates of Aboriginal languages. Here is real linguistic opportunity to build grammar skills to wide number of groups with a highly accessible learning technology.