• Yawaru Ngan-ga app (Supplied)Source: Supplied
A new app to preserve the near-extinct language of Yawaru from Broome region in the north west of Australia has shared its template and it has created the snowball effect.
Andrea Booth

21 Sep 2015 - 4:02 PM  UPDATED 22 Sep 2015 - 9:48 AM

The Yawaru Ngan-ga language app has been created to preserve the threatened language of the Yawaru people from the Broome area in the north of Western Australia.

"The app is wonderful. I’m learning my language from my [grandchildren]," said Debra Pigram, a Yawaru grandma, said in a public statement. "The kids all learn from each other through the language app and try to outdo each other."

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But when the collaborators, the Yawaru Language Centre and software company Thoughtworks, shared its template and settings, known as 'Jila', a spurt of others followed.

"Jila in Yawuru means 'waterhole', a place where people come together, and in this case, come together to solve a mutual problem," Thoughtworks said on its website. "A key design principle of Jila is that any typical web developer should be able to 're-skin' the app and deploy a new customised version."

A girl plays with the Yawaru Ngan-ga app (Supplied)

Another language app has been released for the Miriwoong community whose centre lies in Kununurra area in east Kimberley region and whose language has been named critically endangered. Five more are in the making.

There are more than 250 cultural groups that make up Indigenous Australia yet only 120 languages are still used. About one hundred are endangered, according to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.

Yawaru Ngan-ga language app

The Yawaru Ngan-ga app has been structured as a game to encourage youth to interact and engage.

Users can learn the language through playing word games and exploring different parts of Yawaru customs.

One Yawaru man told Thoughtworks it fuelled him with cultural pride. "I love it. It's very helpful and has been a long time coming. I feel proud and privileged to be Yawuru," said Yawuru dad Lloyd Pigram.

The app, which was selected as a finalist for the 2015 iAwards that celebrate information and communications technology across Australia, can be accessed by Yawaru language custodians to curate content.

It is available to download for both Android and iOS.

Mabu buru, mabu, liyan, mabu ngarrungunil (good country, healthy feeling, strong community).