From Dhungala with love

Our Culture

Added by First Languages Australia

Description A Yorta Yorta elder films an ABC Open Video Postcard on a smartphone and blogs about her ancestral language.

My grandmother was one of the last Yorta Yorta speakers. She taught Yorta Yorta language at Worowa College in Healesville, Victoria. At some stage I undertook the research for the Yorta Yorta Language Heritage Book (dictionary).

My mother and my children speak some of the language. Some years after the dictionary was published there was a demand to start language classes for community members to revive the language. We did a pilot study and applied for funding to do a 12 month project, funded by the Office of the Arts. This process not only invited me to learn my language but it also developed an interest in the intensity of cultural development attached to language renewal. Unless you have someone to talk to in your language, the language will stagnate, so teaching other people to speak Yorta Yorta has had numerous benefits.

Over the years many models of teaching have been tried and failed or just stopped, but this language development has been built to be sustainable, through the process of involving community according to their availability. We constructed a model that is based on small groups of five people per one hour session.

Throughout this time we have had a number of people do the language sessions.

One participant has published a Yorta Yorta children’s book. The local library currently has an Indigenous writing awards with an Indigenous language section in it for participants to enter language articles.

We are currently working on expressing language through audio visual media and are planning to have an exhibition in September of this year. The revival of language has been very instrumental in developing the confidence and self-esteem of the Aboriginal community in this area. There is also a very keen interest from the mainstream sector in Indigenous language development.

Produced by Sharon Atkinson and ABC Open Albury-Wodonga

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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