FLA Logo 300x


Protection of minority languages is a human rights obligation, UN expert says


Half of the world’s estimated 6,000-plus languages will likely die out by the end of the century without urgent efforts to protect minority communities and their languages, a United Nations independent expert said today, noting also that minority languages have often been a source of tension for governments whose obligation it is to protect them.

“Language is a central element and expression of identity and of key importance in the preservation of group identity,” the UN Independent Expert on minority issues, Rita Izsák, said as she presented her latest report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Read more: Protection of minority languages is a human rights obligation, UN expert says

Federal Government ready to “Recognise” Indigenous languages (but it’s kinda old news)

Post by Greg Dickson for Crikey's language blog Fully (sic). There was a bit of hoo-hah in Parliament House this week when Julia, Tony and co. made a minor song and dance about constitutional recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their languages.

Greg Dickson writes that it’s good news but actually kinda old news… with shiny branding. He explains the recommendations and the clever work that was done by the expert panel over twelve months ago.

Read the full article.

Lost and Found

Languages have featured in the WTFs series Lost and Found which aired on the History Channel.

The First Languages Australia congratulate the Producers, the Mitchell library and the participating language workers for their efforts in highlighting indigenous languages in this way.

Lost and Found from First Languages Australia on Vimeo.

Census data misleading; languages still at risk

An article by Aidan Wilson published on Fully (sic), Crikey's language blog.

A report in The Australian claims that the 2011 census showed that the Aboriginal language “crisis” has been overstated, that indigenous languages are not in danger of dying out. Aidan Wilson looks into the data to find out what’s going on.


Read the full article.


Get Fact: are indigenous languages mounting a comeback?

Post by Aiden Wilson for Crikey.

We often hear statistics like “a language dies every two weeks” and predictions that by the end of the century half of the world’s 7000 languages will no longer be spoken. Having worked on endangered languages over the last seven years, I can say from my own experience the situation is critical and is not being overstated.

So how could the census possibly reveal that there isn’t a problem?

Read the full article.

Composer says show 'saved' indigenous word

Key Sydney Festival guest composer and director Heiner Goebbels said he was unaware for eight years that he should seek permission to use the indigenous Australian title of his Sydney Festival show Eraritjaritjaka, despite its themes of how language, colonisation and the power of hierarchy can oppress people.


Read the full article.

New Year and New Logo

A new year and a new logo for QILAC members, who met in Brisbane recently to work on the development of Language Induction Programs. The set of workshop guidelines will be used to help organisations and businesses identify any ways that language diversity could impact on the services they provide. The workshops will also help organisations create a tailored policy statement around recognition of traditional languages within their unique business environment.


Language a key challenge

A key challenge posed in attempting to provide assistance to Indigenous women experiencing domestic violence is providing services in the languages spoken by clients.

Ms Oscar says several different Indigenous communities reside in the Fitzroy Crossing area, meaning that as many as four different languages are spoken.

"It helps to have an understanding of the languages spoken and to employ local people into the positions so that the spoken communication isn't a barrier. Sometimes there's no need for any spoken communication when it comes to people seeking support at the refuge. They just may need to be left alone for a while until they're ready to speak."

Aboriginal language decline: the digital intervention

By ABC's Ben Collins, for The Drum

Most Australians are completely oblivious to the fact that our nation is home to some of the world's language diversity hotspots. Indigenous languages hold important stories of human history, but they are sadly in decline. As ABC's Ben Collins writes, it is now hoped that digital technology will preserve these languages and the secrets they hold.

Read more: Aboriginal language decline: the digital intervention

Lieutenant of all trades looked to both sea and stars

Review: VIEWS OF THE STARBURST WORLD: William Dawes at Sydney Cove 1788-91. By Ross Gibson. UWA Publishing. 304pp. $29.95. Reviewer: STEPHEN WILKS

This book is largely structured around Dawes's two remarkable notebooks on the language of the Eora people of the Sydney region. He recorded words that have transmuted into icons of Australian English - dingo, corroboree, cooee, waratah and woomera. Not that his notes are dull word lists reminiscent of one's year eight French text. They are the most extensive record of this language, and their coverage of complex grammar and transcripts of short conversations testify to his probing of an alien culture.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/lieutenant-of-all-trades-looked-to-both-sea-and-stars-20121115-29fcn.html#ixzz2Cl0GgXMh

Karratha kids learn Yindjibarndi

By ABC Open Producer Paul Bray

The Yindjibarndi language has been spoken around here for a long time. A hill kangaroo is a marndanyungu, an emu a jarnkurna, a goanna an aurrumanthu and an echidna a jirriwi.

Students at the Peg's Creek school have also been busy learning the Yindjibarndi language.

Lynda Ryder (aka Mrs Ryder), a local Yindjibarndi Elder, teaches LOTE classes throughout the week with primary students of all ages.

Peg's Creek students are currently learning some new vocabulary (this week words describe the local Pilbara environment), family relationship words, sentences, prefixes and much more.

So how about some Yindjibarndi counting?

1 - Gunjirri 2 - Gulharra 3 - Jarrwurdi 4 - Gulharraulhamba 5 - Maru Many more - Marnuwarra

Read the full article and post your comments!

Smartphone app created to increase use of endangered Aboriginal language in Australia

An article for the India Country Today Media Network.

A new smartphone language app has been launched to change the way the Iwaidja language is being recorded and to help save it.

Ma! Iwaidja is the first phone app for an Australian indigenous language, one that is spoken by less than 200 people on Croker Island, off the coast of the Northern Territory of Australia, according to the Iwaidja Inyman, also known as the Minjilang Endangered Languages Publication, project website.

Read more:http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/11/14/smartphone-app-created-to-increase-use-of-endangered-aboriginal-language-in-australia-145521 http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/11/14/smartphone-app-created-to-increase-use-of-endangered-aboriginal-language-in-australia-145521#ixzz2Cl1paAtO

Gadgets & Electronics Smartphone app could help save Australian Aboriginal language from extinction

Article by John Piatt for the Mother Nature Network.

The Iwaidja language is currently spoken by fewer than 200 people.

Around the world nearly 3,000 languages are facing extinction. At least 100 of those endangered languages are in Australia, where one, Iwaidja, now has fewer than 200 fluent speakers. The language is only used on Croker Island, a 130-square-mile island off the coast of Northern Australia that is home to a regional group of indigenous Australian Aboriginals.

Losing a language like Iwaidja can rob a people of their culture and the world of their history and accumulated knowledge. But saving a language can be a time-intensive project, involving recording equipment and the presence of a trained linguist. That takes both money and labor, which are in short supply. Read the full article.

Local Languages

A story for Behind The News. By ABC Open Producer Paul Bray, Yindjibarndi LOTE teacher Lynda Ryder and students of Peg's Creek Primary School, Karratha.

VO: Last week we told you how the government wants all kids to learn an Asian language. But there are languages much closer to home that some people think are just as important. As Tash reports, Australia has hundreds of Indigenous languages and some people are worried that if we don't keep teaching them they could eventually disappear. Read the full transcript, watch the video or check out the great links on the BTN website.

Contact us

Phone  +61 2 4940 9144  or  1300 975 246
Visit  Level 1/840 Hunter St, Newcastle West
Post PO Box 528, Newcastle, NSW, 2300

Learn more

  • Join First Languages Australia's network +

    You can assist in the work of First Languages Australia by becoming an active member of our network. Collectively, First Read More
  • Australia’s first languages +

    Australia’s First Languages are a wonderful and precious resource. Australia is situated in one of the world’s linguistic hot spots. Read More
  • Why maintain our languages? +

    There are many reasons to maintain Australia's first languages. Chapter 3 of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Social Justice Report Read More
  • 1