Waking a sleeping language in the Midwest - Nhanda

Our Culture

Added by First Languages Australia

Description Nhanda is a Midwest language spoken in the region from Geraldton to the Murchison River, yet very few people speak it fluently today.

In an attempt to stimulate and invigorate the sleeping language, a number of resources have been recently produced, in the hope that more people will learn the language for generations to come.

Linguist Rosie Sitorus who works at Irra Wangga Language Centre said: "We've created some posters primarily as a teaching tool for schools and homes, so that kids can look at it every day and they can start to be aware of the words and be proud of them."

The Irra Wangga Language team has been working quite extensively with the Nhanda people, in particular with Nhanda elder Clayton Drage and his daughter Colleen.

"We were never taught the language and I always wanted to speak Nhanda," Colleen Drage said.

"Speaking language should be part of our everyday life. I wish I could sit with someone one day and have a conversation with them in Nhanda language, that would be lovely."

One of the foundations to keep any language alive is storytelling, listening and recording those stories in language. Stories are really important and help to ensure languages like Nhanda are kept up-to-date and easily available for people to learn.

"Everyone who cares about representing the Nhanda language and culture should have these kinds of resources available," Rosie said.

"It's about trying to ensure people are proud of the language and that it's important and worthwhile."

ABC Open Producer: Chris Lewis

This video was originally contributed to the ABC Open Mother Tongue project, which invited Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to share a story about their mother tongue.

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