By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Re-Awakening Languages: Theory and practice in the revitalisation of Australia’s Indigenous languages
Edited by John Hobson, Kevin Lowe, Susan Poetsch and Michael Walsh (Sydney University Press, $65.00, softcover, 457 pages)
Preserving Indigenous languages of Australia for posterity is vital, so it’s heartening to learn through this new publication about the renaissance movement in recent decades.
Many languages that have long ceased to be heard in public and consequently deemed “dead” or “extinct” have started to emerge. This book pertinently describes the ongoing struggle to keep these languages ‘alive’.
In the foreword, Jeanie Bell says: “The contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia to linguistic and cultural diversity worldwide is essential and is happening through the important work in which we are all involved. The achievements and success of this work are reflected in the papers and case studies presented in this very important book”.
“…This collection of papers reflects the story of different groups and their experiences. They are the voice of the land and the voice of the people breathing life back into the languages that existed… for thousands of years prior to their more recent decline…”
This volume seeks to provide the first comprehensive snapshot of the courageous actions and determined aspirations of Indigenous people and their supporters to revitalise Australian languages in the 21st century.
Along with describing the satisfaction and tension of this life-long struggle, attention is also drawn to the need for effective planning and strong advocacy at the highest political and administrative levels if the effort is to be successful and have a long life.
They ‘talk’ of the sustained and appropriate support that’s required to ensure that programs are not just available, but that they are sufficiently robust to clearly match linguistic and educational needs across a range of unique contexts.
The contributing authors have worthy credentials. This is an impressive compilation, with references, where the painstaking work and research is bound to reap many rewards.
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.