2012 Language projects
2012 will see several exciting developments:
Muurrbay’s pilot project with FirstVoices Canada will see two language dictionaries (Gumbaynggirr and Gathang) go online. The FirstVoices online language dictionary is being utilised by over forty Indigenous languages in Canada and the U.S. This is the first time that an Australian Aboriginal language has been given this opportunity. Next step is the phone App!
- Workshops with Bundjalung Elders Poppy Harry Walker and Uncle Charles Moran, on recent developments in communicative language teaching.
- Publishing of the Yaygirr dictionary and grammar, the language of the Clarence Valley around Maclean and Yamba. Brother Steve Morelli has been working with Yaegl elders to compile this long awaited resource, which will provide a strong foundation for future language classes and resources.
- Gumbaynggirr classes and resource development: Certificate II is being taught at Muurrbay. Muurrbay has received an AIATSIS grant to work on the Gumbaynggirr Collected Stories. Steve Morelli and language researchers Gary Williams, Dallas Walker and Virginia Jarrett are glossing the stories according to the Leipzig rules.
- Aunty Esther Quinlin and linguist Amanda Lissarrague are team-teaching a Certificate 1 Dhanggati language course to Elders at Kempsey TAFE. Amanda is compiling a set of ten books Guuyata Dhanggati Speak in Dhanggati with a powerpoint version which incorporate audio files of the lesson spoken by community members. Two Elders from the class, Uncle Grahame Quinlan and Aunty Cheryl Blair are now teaching language in primary schools.
- Gathang Certificate I language classes will be offered in three towns, and teacher-linguist Julie Long is working with the Gathang Language Group to develop a Certificate II class.
- Workshops with Darkinyung community members on new language resources and communicative language teaching.
- Advising Wonnarua Nation on various projects: developing a Welcome to country, and signage.
AIATSIS funds restoring of Gumbaynggirr stories
Probably the largest volume of Aboriginal language story material in South East Australia comes from the Gumbaynggirr area. Muurrbay is restoring and publishing the Nymboidan Gumbaynggirr stories of Phillip Shannon as found in researcher Gerhardt Laves’s manuscripts, and is comparing their language and story themes with those of other Gumbaynggirr sources. We are very grateful to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies for funding this research.
Muurrbay will present these stories in Laves’ orthography, standard Gumbaynggirr orthography, a gloss (Leipzig rules), and a free translation. Using examples of Southern stories of Harry Buchanan and Northern stories recorded by WE Smythe, a comparative outline of three Gumbaynggirr dialects will be made. Indigenous researchers Dallas Walker, Gary Williams and Virginia Jarrett will train in glossing according to the Leipzig rules.
Muurrbay has already published a limited number of a reader’s edition Gumbaynggirr Yuludarla in 1992, but it is now out of print. These stories are mainly from the Southern informant Harry Buchanan. Muurrbay is also preparing to publish an illustrated collection of all known Gumbaynggirr stories. However the language in these has been standardised to the southern dialect and glossing has been at a lay-person’s level.
This research will further the public recognition of Gumbaynggirr culture through place names and signage; e.g. the recognition and signage explanation of the Moon place at Coffs Harbour. Art, music, dance and drama presentations have already come about in the Goori community from opening up of local stories; and a carefully researched original presentation of these stories will help to authenticate and validate such cultural expressions. This presentation will help dispel Non-Aboriginal myths that ‘real’ Indigenous culture and language come from the Top End or the arid interior. They will engender pride in the Goori community and enable non-Indigenous people to appreciate the local Aboriginal heritage.
Linguistic subtleties of Gumbaynggirr, found almost exclusively in the Shannon stories will be made explicit through this proposed research. The stories contain several ways of expressing politeness and avoidance language. Highlighting these will militate against the myth that Aboriginal languages are ‘primitive’. Both the linguistic and the socio-cultural values of the Shannon stories that have been excluded from reader’s editions have convinced the Muurrbay Aboriginal Language Centre that these stories must be included in the proposed academic version.
2011 Language projects
Muurrbay and MRALC supports Aboriginal language revitalisation through activities that include:
- Providing access to linguistic expertise, and training for Aboriginal people.
- Recording languages wherever possible, and assisting with access to archival materials, providing a regional storage base for these materials.
- Producing language materials such as dictionaries or wordlists, grammars, learner’s guides, transcriptions and translations.
- Providing community access to languages by using, and assisting communities to use information technology such as: Transcriber, Shoebox, Powerpoint and Adobe Audition.
- Employing linguists, Aboriginal language researchers and specialists in Information and Communication Technology.
- Raising awareness in the wider community about the value of Aboriginal languages.