It's the first time ever in Australia that an Aboriginal language considered to be dead is being reclaimed from anthropological records.
By
Nancia Guivarra

Source:
NITV News
25 Sep 2013 - 5:52 PM  UPDATED 27 Sep 2013 - 4:42 PM

This week, the Barngarla people of Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula began the long road to relearn their language.

Professor Zuckermann, Chair of Endangered Languages at the University of Adelaide, says that of the estimated 250 Aboriginal languages across the nation, only 18 are considered to be alive, or spoken by their youngest members.  He says Australia is the world leader in linguicide.

"The loss of the language is the loss of cultural autonomy, is the loss of mental health, of continuity, of intellectual heritage, of spirituality. It's the loss of the soul

"Therefore, when you reclaim a sleeping beauty, you are trying to regain this lost soul, this sovereignty of knowledge, of tradition."

With currently no fluent speakers, Professor Zuckermann will use a dictionary of 2,500 words recorded 170 years ago by a Lutheran missionary in 1844 to revive Barngarla.

Many of the Barngarla people, whose country includes the key mining ports of Port Augusta, Whyalla and Port Lincoln, were stolen from their families and put on missions even as recently as the 1970s.

The Barngarla language reclamation project has already reignited a passion in the Barngarla people for an exploration of their own history, population movements, cultural songs, dances and sites of significance.

Watch the video above for the full story.

This is the second part of a two-part series looking at Aboriginal languages. To see the first part, click here.