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Indigenous Languages

Jun 11, 2012

Karri-borlbme kun-wok ~ Learning language

So get cracking. Now you've got no excuse not to learn a bit of a language that is truly Australian.

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Greg Dickson writes:

We’re very happy to spread the word about a great new initiative from Western Arnhem Land that gives us all the chance to learn a bit of an Aboriginal language: Bininj Gunwok*. Through the Bininj Gunwok Language Project, you can now subscribe to an email list and receive regular bits of vocab, grammatical info and more, in order to teach more people about Bininj Gunwok – one of the nation’s strongest Indigenous languages spoken by a few thousand people across Western Arnhem Land. Dr Murray Garde currently works on the project, having spent decades working closely with Aboriginal language speakers in the region. He tells us below how we can all learn a bit about these awesome languages:

For those who visit/live and work in Kakadu, Western Arnhem Land and Maningrida, or have an interest in Aboriginal languages, the Bininj Gunwok Language Project is pleased to announce Karriborlbme Kunwok ‘Learning Language’.

Karri-borlbme Kun-wok ‘learning language’ is an email list to which you can subscribe and regularly receive a word in Bininj Gunwok (Kunwinjku, Gundjeihmi and other dialects). If you are interested in learning something about Bininj Gunwok dialects, this is a great way to expand your vocabulary and knowledge about the language. For Bininj who already know how to speak the language, this is also a good way to learn how to write Kunwinjku, Kuninjku, Kune and Gundjeihmi. Some grammatical information about the word is given and an illustrative sentence is usually also included. Emails will be two or three times a week, sometimes less, sometimes more. Karri-borlbme Kun-wok is a resource of the Bininj Gunwok Language Project.

See http://bininjgunwok.org.au/resources/kunwok-yi-borlbme/ for more details. To subscribe, follow the link and then once on the page, click on the link above which says yi-ngeynamerren (‘put your name’). If you don’t want to receive the emails, you can always check the archive whenever you like by going directly to http://words.bininjgunwok.org.au/words

For more general information about the language, visit bininjgunwok.org.au

It’s a great idea. Friday’s word was ngudda (‘you’) and by checking out the info you can hear the word and get your head around how to use it. And by fishing around the Bininj Gunwok website, you can find more treasures. Like this blogpost that features two interviews with young blokes working in the CDEP program in Kunbarlanja. If you listen and follow the transcript, you’ll see/hear Friday’s word, ngudda, being used (along with many other words spoken very quickly in dynamic conversation).

Learn to talk like the bininj from the Kunbarlanja CDEP workshop

So get cracking. Now you’ve got no excuse not to learn a bit of a language that is truly Australian. Bonj bobo.

*Bininj Gunwok is actually a cover term given to a chain of closely related languages, each with their own name: Kunwinjku is the most common, but Gundjeihmi is perhaps the most well known, being the language of the traditional owners of the land that was to be the controversial Jabiluka Uranium mine. Bininj means man, person or Aboriginal person and gunwok means language, therefore the term Bininj Gunwok refers to all the languages spoken by Aboriginal people who call themselves bininj.

Munanga —

Munanga

AKA: Greg Dickson. Postdoc guy at University of Queensland with Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language. Somewhere there, also a community linguist (Katherine region, NT) specialising in Aboriginal languages.

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