Calling all Barngarla people

The Barngarla people of Whyalla are being called upon to once again reunite with their native tongue.

Chair of linguistics and endangered languages at the University of Adelaide Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann, will be returning to Whyalla for the third time this year to help local Barngarla people reconnect with their language.

This visit will be especially important with Professor Zuckermann bringing a significant guest.

Director of the Leipzig Mission, Reverend Volker Dally, will be joining Professor Zuckermann for this historical event.

Mr Dally's mission, which was once the Dresden Lutheran Mission, was responsible for the first known recordings of the Barngarla language dating back to 1844.

The language reclamation workshop and a talk by special guest Mr Dally will be held at the Hincks Avenue and Clutterbuck Street, Gabmididi Manoo Children and Family Centre commencing on Friday, July 19 commencing at 3pm.

Professor Zuckermann specialises in language reclamation and revivalistics and has been especially passionate about working with the Barngarla people and helping them reclaim what he calls their 'sleeping beauty' tongue.

His ultimate aim is to have the Barngarla elders of Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Lincoln re-learn their mother tongue and then run the workshops themselves to teach to the generation of Barngarla and non-Barngarla peoples.

"Linguicide (language killing) has made Australia an unlucky country," professor Zuckermann said.

"This force has been in operation in Australia since the early colonial period, when efforts were made to prevent Aboriginal people from continuing to speak their language, in order to 'civilize' them."

Even Governor of South Australia George Grey, who was relatively pro-Aboriginal, appeared to partially share this opinion and remarked in his journal that 'the ruder languages disappear successively, and the tongue of England alone is heard around' (Grey 1841: 200-201).

"What was seen as a 'civilising' process was actually the traumatic loss of various fascinating and multifaceted Aboriginal languages," professor Zuckermann said.

"It is not surprising therefore that out of 250 known Aboriginal languages, today only 18 (or 7 per cent) are alive and kicking, that is spoken natively by the community children.

"Blatant statements of linguistic imperialism such as the ones made by Grey and others now seem to be less frequent, but the processes they describe are nonetheless still active."

Professor Zuckermann encourages all people of Barngarla and non-Barngarla descent to attend the course and learn a piece of linguistic heritage from the region.

The reclamation of Barngarla is supported by ILS, Office For The Arts.

The 175th Lutheran missionary anniversary is to take place at the University of Adelaide, July 25 and is supported by Adelaide City Council.

If you are interested in attending the language reclamation workshop, please call the Hincks Avenue and Clutterbuck Street, Gabmididi Manoo Children and Family Centre on 8645 5240.

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