Monday, April 13, 2009

Lost language revived

Dharug was one of the dominant Aboriginal dialects in the Sydney region of Australia when British settlers arrived in 1788, but became extinct after the British colonisation. Details of its death are sketchy but it appears the last of the traditional Dharug speakers died in the late 19th Century, and it survived (if that word can be used) only because of written records. However, the language has been revived by school teachers and students in Sydney. It is being seen as a way for aboriginal people to reclaim part of their lost heritage, but courses are also open to non-aboriginals.

When the British ships arrived, there were about 270 different Aboriginal languages in Australia. Today, only about 60 or 70 are spoken on a daily basis. Of these, roughly half a dozen are considered to be strong and are being passed from adults to their children. Do you think languages should be allowed to die if they begin to outlive their usefulness? Is language really intimately linked to culture?
You can read the whole story from the BBC here.

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