Revival languages come from the ancient past but are re-created into something new for the future of Aboriginal people. We are investigating what these languages are actually like, in the present, after all the work people have done on researching past records and Elders' memories, making community decisions about things like shared words, spelling and 'things missing' from the records. Both communities and linguists need good working understandings of what is happening, what is likely, what has worked well and useful pathways to follow. This helps communities to not have to 'reinvent the wheel', and helps linguists to understand how to work with the living languages of the present, as well as the historical records of the past.
To get a good picture of all this, we first spent 18 months interviewing Aboriginal people involved in language revival. We are using this to tell us how to describe the languages from Aboriginal perspectives as well as using the contributions of linguistics. The next step was to collect as much 'real live' language as possible, which we did with the help of our six case studies - Keeraywoorroong, Wathaurong, Gunnai, Wiradjuri, Butchulla and Gumbaynggirr. Looking at this material from our new combined perspectives will allow us to feed back to communities and linguists a much clearer picture of how revival languages really work.
Funding for this project was provided by AIATSIS and the ARC (Linkage, in partnership with La Trobe University).
Images: Language game in Wiradjuri class (above) & Community researchers for Meeting Point Project (right)
Living Languages and New Approaches to Language Revitalisation Research
This book advocates for a new model of describing the practices of language revitalization, and decolonizing the research methods used to study them. The volume provides a comprehensive treatment of the theoretical and methodological foundations of working with communities revitalizing their languages. It lays out the conceptual framework at the heart of the project and moves into a description of the model, based on a seven-year research process working with Aboriginal communities in eastern Australia. Six case studies show the model’s application in language revival practice. The book critically engages with the notion of revival languages as emergent and ever-transforming and develops a holistic approach to their description that reflects Aboriginal language practitioners’ understandings of the nature of language. It seeks to demonstrate how the conceptual tools developed from this approach can support efforts to develop deeply collaborative research, highlight the diversity of language revitalisation practice and map between the realms of old and new, local and global, and the social, cultural, and textual dimensions of language, making this an ideal resource for researchers and scholars in sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, education, cultural studies, and post-colonial studies. Out Now through Routledge
Meeting Point Project Poster
A new holistic language planning tool Tyama-ngan, koong meerreeng watnanda, malayeetoo (We know, body and country together, long time) comes in the form of a beautiful poster with core concepts expressed through the artwork of Vicki Couzens, and an associated workshop. It is the most recent output of the typology project and expands on the principles explored in Peetyawan weeyn, with more detail and breadth. The poster is available now for purchase through the VACL shop.
Meeting Point Project Factsheets
A series of factsheets were produced in 2015 which reflect what we learned from the Meeting Point Project. All the fact sheets are about newly living languages brought from the past into the present and future.
tyama-teeyt yookapa: Interviews from the Meeting Point Project
tyama-teeyt yookapa is a collection of stories, reflections and hopes about Language revival in Australian Aboriginal communities extracted from a series of interviews carried out during 2009-10. It contains insights into every aspect of language revival from culture, relationships and identity, through grammar, sounds and spelling, to considerations of collaborative research and the meaning of authenticity.
Read here for details!
Click here to order a copy!
Meeting Point: Setting up a Typology of Revival Languages in Victoria
Prepared by Dr Christina Eira & Vicki Couzens, 2010
The major report submitted to AIATSIS in 2010 outlines some of the starting principles of the project and provides a thematised organisation of the interviews, plus preliminary papers and other materials.