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Indigenous languages are a very important part of our culture and identity. So many of our languages have been lost or threatened since European arrival. Currently organisations such as VACL are working hard to retrieve and revive many of these languages so we can teach them to our children and help keep the culture alive. As such, we urge users of this site to treat our languages with respect.

Naming and Indigenous Languages in Victoria

1. Seek Permission and Follow Protocol

If you would like to use Indigenous words to name a public place, facility or program it is protocol to use words from the Indigenous language of the land where the place to be named stands, or where the program is run. It is then appropriate to seek permission from the Traditional Owners of that language area to use their words in the name.

If you are in contact with, or know of Traditional Owners from the Country where you are naming, it is best to approach them first. If further assistance is required, or if you do not know any Traditional Owners for that area then you can contact V.A.C.L. on 9600 3811 or by submitting a language query.

2. Translating English Concepts into Indigenous Languages is complex

Victorian Indigenous languages mostly express concepts relating to a world that has changed a lot from the time of European settlement. Often concepts that apply to activities and places that exist now, do not have equivalent translations in Victorian Indigenous languages. Also, some concepts that English expresses may be thought of differently in an Indigenous language, for example, words for family. In some cases knowledge and resources that exist for some languages is limited and being reclaimed and therefore not available at the moment. It may not be a simple case of opening a dictionary and looking up the English word. Be prepared to think outside the square and to be open to suggestions from the Traditional Owners themselves.

3. It takes time to show respect

It is important to be aware that Traditional Owners are called upon for many different purposes and that there are a number of issues about allowing public use of language that they may need to discuss. For this reason it may take a while to receive an answer to your request for language for naming. If you have a deadline, you may need to make those involved aware that Indigenous naming can be a form of respect, but that not waiting for permission can be more offensive.

If you have a query about an Indigenous Language of Victoria, simply fill in this form below and it will be forwarded to the VACL Office who will attend to your enquiry. Please be aware that not all information is available and finding an answer to your question may take some time. Thank You.

Query about an Indigenous Language of Victoria
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