Workshops will begin this week on the western Eyre Peninsula of South Australia to reclaim a lost language.
Nancia Guivarra

23 Sep 2013 - 5:58 PM  UPDATED 27 Sep 2013 - 4:40 PM

The Barngarla language hasn't been spoken for 50 years, but that's not enough to stop the Barngarla people from learning their traditional tongue.

Barngarla woman Maureen Dare-Atkinson says she grew up speaking her native tongue fluently on her Barngarla country in South Australia until a big black car came and took her and her siblings away. 

“I lost a lot. I lost my culture and my way of life,” Ms Dare-Atkinson says.

Ms Dare-Atkinson was eight-years-old in 1953 when the government stopped her and her people from speaking Barngarla. However, she believes that is all about to change.

“I'm so excited because I do want to know my language,” Ms Dare-Atkinson says.

Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann, who is leading the revival linguistics department at Adelaide University, asked the Barngarla people two years ago if they would like to reclaim their language and they agreed. 

“We have already done three workshops in Whyalla,” says Professor Zuckermann.

Last month, the Federal Government Office for the Arts funded $250,000 to reclaim Barngarla for the next three years.

In Port Augusta, there are up to 100 Barngarla people, most of whom are Ms Dare-Atkinson’s family members.  The elders include her younger brothers Harry and Simon, who were taken away in the same ‘big black car’ and sent to Adelaide.

Harry Dare is also a founder of the Umewarra radio station and says he's looking forward to hearing Barngarla language on the airwaves.

The language reclamation for an estimated 1000 Barngarla people is being conducted in Port Augusta, Whyalla and Port Lincoln.

Related: Barngarla language brought back to life