Rebirth of language

By SIMON BEVILACQUA
19jun05

NEW life has been breathed into the Tasmanian Aboriginal language.

After more than five years’ research and analysis, the Tasmanian
Aboriginal Centre has given the Tasmanian community a glimpse of its
language, known as palawa kani.

The language has been used on interpretation boards on the summit of Mt
Wellington, or kunanyi as the mountain is known to Aborigines.

One panel states, “milaythina nika milaythina-mana” — “This land is our
country”.

In the late 1990s, the TAC embarked on a bold attempt to rejuvenate an
Aboriginal language.

Researchers scanned historical references, including journals of the
d’Entrecasteaux expedition.

There were thought to be a dozen or more Aboriginal languages in
Tasmania and even more dialects. The language program has produced an
amalgam of the languages.

There are no capital letters in the language.

TAC spokeswoman Trudy Maluga said the Aboriginal community decided to
release parts of the new language only when it benefitted the
Aboriginal community.

“We have taken ownership of our language,” Ms Maluga said.

“This is a way of beating assimilation.”

Ms Maluga said many within the Aboriginal community could speak palawa
kani fluently.

Many Tasmanian towns feature Aboriginal names including Murdunna, Taroona, Teepookana and Nubeena.

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