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Reviving Aboriginal Languages in Victoria Link between language and culture Language and culture are one in the same, one cannot exist without the other.

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Presentation on theme: "Reviving Aboriginal Languages in Victoria Link between language and culture Language and culture are one in the same, one cannot exist without the other."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Reviving Aboriginal Languages in Victoria

3 Link between language and culture Language and culture are one in the same, one cannot exist without the other Culture is like a tree, language is its roots Social structures are defined by language –Specific names you gain throughout your life –Taboos (after people have passed) –Ceremonial language –Gender language (ie mother-in-law) –Language families (ie Kulin, alliances etc)

4 Link between language and culture Aboriginal languages cannot be translated directly into English. The embedded meaning of phrases is very hard to explain in simple terms One word may refer to many things, i.e. –‘Grook/gurrk/gorrak’ is a female suffix, but can be found in the name for evening star marbeangrook meaning it has something to do with ‘women’s business’ or possibly when female animals lay their eggs or have young when it is low on the horizon etc; the ngarri-baam-gorrak, the owlet nightjar is the female totem –Animals have different names for young, old, male, female, this is to show what animals were forbidden to those who have not yet been initiated

5 Cultural knowledge contained in a single word Keeray Wurrung (Western Vic) –porran porran koola moothang the storm that destroys wattle blossoms …..which wattle is blooming at which time? …..what else is happening at the same time? ….. food gathering responsibilities of men and of women …..

6 Cultural knowledge contained in a single word Mutti Mutti language dhaima-dhaima get fish by spearing it in shallow water nguinggiladha hum a song to get ready for singing it demadha – hear listen, understand, know

7 Link between language and culture Two different words can be used to mean one thing: mother (baban); foot (djinang); big toe (babai-djinang) mother foot; female animal (babanhu) There can be more than one word for family members: Grandmother: gugung, malunggung Grandfather: lalal, father’s father ngaba Sister: liwurruk, mulokin, ladi; older sister: lath-ganj, landan Older brother: wurndulung, bangganj; younger brother: barnumbi, dhidhith Young girl: burnay, murnmurndiik Aunt: bambu, girrin Babies and children can have many names throughout life

8 Yorta Yorta stages of life (male) 7 Collected RH Mathews 1902, spelling from Bowe & Morey 1999 Yorta yiyirr dhamayirr djirribang malnigaptya malniga wonga gokamulga djibauga English 'a man' 'old man' 'very old man' 'small boy' 'youth, before initiation' 'youth, partly initiated' 'youth, after extraction of tooth' 'youth, fully initiated'

9 Link between language and culture It is done this way to define: –Whose Country you have connections with/ responsibilities for, –Who is responsible for you during initiation ceremonies, –Who you could marry (totems/moieties), you cannot marry someone with the same totem as you, this keeps the genetic pool pure

10 Link between language and culture Different ways to communicate: –Sign Language 1 little finger10 shoulder 2 ring finger11 neck (reed neckalce) 3 middle finger12 earlobe 4 index finger13 side of head 5 thumb14 temple 6 wrist15 top of head 7 forearm 8 elbow 9 upper arm

11 Link between language and culture Language and cultural practises were forbidden soon after European arrival If caught, you were punished Families separated, never see them again ‘Half-caste Act’, those with one European father/mother were forbidden to stay with those who have two Aboriginal parents, it was referred to as ‘Softening the dying pillow’, in affect attempted genocide, black must become white

12 Link between language and culture This had devastating effects on men’s/women’s roles in Aboriginal society –Ceremonies, especially initiation ceremonies no longer occurred, hence peoples place in the societal structure was severely disrupted –Children no longer received their many names through life –Language was not being used everyday

13 Link between language and culture Linguicide –gradual language death –bottom-to-top language death: when language change begins in a low-level environment such as the home. –top-to-bottom language death: when language change begins in a high-level environment such as the government. –radical language death –linguicide (also known as sudden death, language genocide, physical language death, biological language death)

14 Link between language and culture Coranderrk Reserve –Those on missions/reserves were not allowed to ‘mix’ with Aboriginal people who lived in the bush. They were called ‘Wild Blacks’, my grandmother remembers her mother giving them food at risk of getting all her food taken away from her as punishment –This attitude remained up until the early-mid 1970s with the Stolen Generation. Some don’t even know they are Aboriginal

15 Link between language and culture Coranderrk Reserve –We did not die out, our language still exists, our culture is still strong –Thanks to people like Simon Wonga and William Barak and the reserve manager John Green and his wife –Ceremonies and stories were recorded by John and his wife (as Barak told them) –Barak painted ceremonies –Descendants today still perform these ceremonies

16 Link between language and culture How many Native American groups can you name?

17 Link between language and culture How many Aboriginal language groups in Australia can you name?

18 Link between language and culture How many Aboriginal Languages are there in Victoria? Can you name them?

19 Link between language and culture

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21 Today –All Victorian languages are is revitalisation mode, which means: Some know a handful of words, or short phrases Some have a lot of resources ie Gunai, some hardly anything ie Yuyu) Word lists, dictionaries, online resources, apps language programs From these resources, many dances, ceremonies and stories have been rekindled allowing cultural practise to reoccur, the fundamental key being language

22 Link between language and culture Today –The key for reclamation is to use language in a contemporary sense, in context. Translating common phrases in the ‘old language way’ ie How are you? (literal meaning Enquire-I you) –Narrin-ik (name-my); Narrin-in (name-your); Wominjeka narrin-ik (Welcome name my....) –Yimu-dji (lie down, sleep-telling someone to do it)

23 Sound chart Letter/sEnglish Explanation Woi wurrung example nj‘onion’ warinj (wombat) dj/tj‘judge’Sound in between a ‘d’ and ‘t’ djirri djirri (willy wagtail) ng‘sing’ ngawanj (sun) ii‘sleep’ biik (earth/ground) ‘d’ and ‘t’-Sound in between a ‘d’ and ‘t’ dadjerri/tadjerri (glider possum) ‘b’ and ‘p’-Sound in between ‘b’ and ‘p’ bubup (baby/child) ‘g’ and ‘k’-Sound in between ‘g’ and ‘k’ kulinj/gulin j (Aboriginal man) ai‘eye’ yanggai (black cockatoo) rr -roll the ‘rr’ barring (track/footmark) rt/rd-Roll tongue back and say together walert (possum); marden (sad) dh/th-Tongue at or between teeth tharangalk/dharranggalk (heaven, milky way, Bunjil’s home) rn- ‘n’ sound while curling tongue backwards murnmurndiik (young girl) ngg‘anger’ manggip (daughter) nh-‘nh’ said together with tongue on roof of mouth, behind ridge of teeth wudhel-wudhel (fishing line, cord, rope)

24 Sound chart LetterEnglishWoi wurrung example a‘u’ in ‘but’ baban (mother) e‘bed’ derril (brown ochre) i‘bit’ mirring (eye) o‘hot’ morrok (skin) oo‘paw’ poorneet (tadpole) u‘put’ guyup-guyup (bird) uu‘book’ barruuk (kangaroo rat) aa‘cart’ baanj (water)

25 You have a go……. baban (mother) djirri djirri (willy wagtail) marram (kangaroo) warinj (wombat) ngarrga (to dance) barring (knee) durt (star) djinang (foot) twaganin (farewell) guyup-guyup (bird) gan-gan (young boy) banhul (hill, mountain) bubup (baby, child) gurrng gurrng (kookaburra) dulai wurrung (platypus) murnmurndiik (young girl)

26 Link between language and culture The Lieutenant –Very clinical approach to recording the language of the Gadigal people –Found that didn’t work as well as immersing himself with the people and culture –You can’t learn a language from a dictionary –Observation and repetition –Use of language in context

27 Link between language and culture We use these principles in language learning/teaching today Master Apprentice, ASLA (Accelerated Second Language Acquisition)

28 Why language is important to me as an Aboriginal person My ancestors were not allowed to speak their language Awakening a sleeping language, it is not lost Cultural strength-connecting through song/ceremony/dance Identity and inner strength, ability to pass it onto my family Speaking how my ancestors spoke Fulfils and compliments me as an Indigenous person Links you to the old ways, gives you purpose and pride Encourages others in my community to use the language Educates the wider community to use the language, ie school and kinder kids, email greetings and farewells Can use it in a contemporary way ie around the home

29 Contemporary language learning Songs children’s songs dance songs Welcomes in language ceremonial songs

30 Contemporary language learning Stories Why the gurrborra (koala) doesn’t drink water The creation of the Birrarung (Yarra) How the dulai wurrung (platypus) was created Mindi the devil snake Why the balayang (bat) is black

31 Contemporary language learning

32 Dances

33 Why we do it, to Honour our Elders

34 Further Info? The Notebooks of William Dawes http://www.williamdawes.org/ Similarly Thomas papers have been transcribed also and will be launched in the coming months

35 VACL Further Info? Office: 295 King St, Melbourne Phone: 9600 3811 Web: www.vaclang.org.auwww.vaclang.org.au Email: vacl@vaclang.org.au


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