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SBS Documentary on Endangered Indigenous Language Wins Award

My Grandmother's Lingo Source: SBS

It is estimated that, around the world, a language is lost every two weeks.

SBS has won the Multimedia Storytelling Walkley for an interactive documentary about attempts to preserve endangered Indigenous languages.

It is estimated that, around the world, a language is lost every two weeks.

More than 90 per cent of Australia's Aboriginal languages are regarded as critically endangered, and Marra is one of them.

It's now at the heart of an online interactive project produced by S-B-S that aims to raise awareness about the disappearance of Indigenous languages.

That was a greeting in the Marra language - one of the Aboriginal languages spoken in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.

Marra is almost never heard outside the remote community of Ngukurr (NOOK-ah) on the Roper River in the region's south-east.

In fact, just three of the community's elders speak it fluently.

Marra is now at the centre of a new online interactive project by S-B-S that hopes to draw attention to the extinction of Indigenous languages in Australia and globally. 

Gina McKeon is the producer of "My Grandmother's Lingo."  

"The purpose of "My Grandmother's Lingo" is really to draw attention to a global crisis which is Indigenous language loss, and we really wanted to do that in an inspiring, and creative and new way, and that's with online documentary storytelling."

Ngukurr resident Angelina Joshua is the main voice and storyteller.

After suffering a brain aneurysm when she was 23-years-old, only five years ago, Ms Joshua had to learn to write and speak again.

Shortly after, her grandmother - who had taught her to speak Marra - died.

They were key events that encouraged Ms Joshua to make preserving the language her mission, too.

"My cousin said to me, 'It's your turn now, you know Marra now, you understand Marra and now you can speak and now you can teach and now you're a really good teacher.'"

"My Grandmother's Lingo" integrates voice-activation technology, along with gaming and animation to teach the website user how to say some words in the Marra language.

Jake Duzynki, who animated the project, says the challenge was to interpret Angelina Joshua's words.

"I'd sit down most days and listen to each segment and how I could generate content and express what Angelina was saying in a visual sense."

Producer Gina McKeon says it's hoped "My Grandmother's Lingo" helps audiences engage more closely with the issue of Indigenous language extinction.

"The project itself, Indigenous languages, I don't think has been presented in this way before. So it's a really fun and creative way to get a story like this out to new audiences, hopefully younger audiences as well, and audiences around the world."

For Angelina Joshua "My Grandmother's Lingo" has revived some fond memories.

"When I think about what I've learned - if it's a sentence or a word - I'll sit down and think about it and then I imagine my Grandma, still alive, still there - you know - telling stories in Marra, and I miss all that."

To explore "My Grandmother's Lingo" head over to the SBS website: and