Strolling the (mom language) discuss
MEMBERS of Canberra’s Worldwide Mom Language Motion will make the tenth annual stroll round Lake Burley Griffin on February 26.
Though for comfort, this 12 months’s stroll will happen on the Sunday, it’s February 21 that was proclaimed as Worldwide Mom Language Day by UNESCO in recognition of the date when Bengali-speaking college students, demonstrating for his or her language, had been gunned down in Dhaka. From such tragic beginnings, the day has grown to change into a worldwide motion supporting mom languages and cultural understanding.
In New York just lately the UN launched the Worldwide Decade of Indigenous Languages.
Beginning on the worldwide flags’ show close to Questacon, language lovers bearing banners and wearing conventional costumes will cross Kings Bridge and finish on the police memorial close to the carillon, the place there shall be performances and a picnic.
Worldwide estimates are that between 95 per cent of at the moment’s spoken languages could also be extinct or critically endangered by 2100 and nowhere is that this query so acute as in Australia.
A protracted-time buddy of the walks is Ngunnawal elder Caroline Hughes, who has over time supplied the occasion’s Welcome to Nation. Now she has a extra private story to inform, for she is studying her mom language and introduced the home down on the Nationwide Museum in December when she informed these on the 2023 Australian of the Yr exhibition launch how she had began dreaming in Ngunnawal.
I caught up with Hughes to learn the way she was becoming all of it in with a busy profession. Now working at AIATSIS, she was previously director of CIT’s Yurauna Centre and is now in demand as a speaker and Ngunnawal celebrant round Canberra.
“I grew up with a sort of creole language, however with English because the dominant language in society,” she says.
“Nevertheless it’s not nearly speaking which means, it’s additionally about expertise and data, about geography, household, philosophy, cultural spirit, even anatomy and well being care.”
As an illustration, in contrast to English, the place there’s merely a standard phrase for snow, in her language there are numerous phrases – “onerous snow”, “cool snow”, “and snow on the finish of winter”. It’s the identical with bushes.
A number of years in the past she attended the World Indigenous Peoples’ Convention on Training and heard about revitalising mom tongues even in cultures the place there was little to hold on to.
“If they will do that, why can’t we?” she thought.
Hughes contacted conventional custodians to ask for help from elders, additionally discovering sympathetic ears in linguists Doug Marmion and Louise Baird.
Noting that in contrast to English, Ngunnawal doesn’t have “s” “okay” or “c”, they set about making a primary grammar and vocabulary.
One massive benefit is that the languages of close by Yuin, Ngarigo, Gundungurra and Dharawal individuals are interconnected linguistically.
She’s pleased together with her progress however says “realistically, it’s going to take no less than 50 years for fluency… however as you begin studying it’s a very good signal in case you begin dreaming it and listening to it… kids decide it up rapidly”.
She appears again on an period of destruction of language, however praises the work of linguists, farmers and even missionaries who wrote issues down.
“We’ve bought from about 200 Ngunnawal phrases to 2500 and now some individuals are going off to coach in linguistics to increase their language data,” she says.
Within the meantime, there’s the Winanggaay (“look pay attention be taught”) Ngunnawal Language Aboriginal Company, the place although the main target is on Ngunnawal individuals, all are welcome to have a go.
Mom Language Stroll, on the worldwide flag show, 10.30am, February 26. Free occasion, all languages welcome.
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