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Language ecology and Butchulla revitalisation

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Title: Language ecology and Butchulla revitalisation
Issue Date: 12 Mar 2015
Description: In this presentation we will discuss the language ecology of the Badjala language from SE Queensland within the paradigm of the ontology, epistemology of the descendants of the Badjala tribal group from the standpoint position as language custodians as part of their overall role as traditional owners of land, traditional knowledge, language rights and associated cultural practices. Sadly there are no fluent speakers of the Badjala language but the increasing number of avid learners building on their linguistic and language repertoire of the mixed language is continually growing increasing.

The Butchulla/Badjala language classes commenced in the 1990s due to the combined efforts of two Aboriginal language activists. Initial motivation began with the distribution of the Gubbi Gubbi/Butchulla community dictionary compiled by one of the presenters working as a community linguist. The other presenter is deeply immersed in the local community and on receiving a copy of the dictionary initiated and organised language classes for children to attend at the local community hall.

The classes had to contend with few resources and fixed attitudes against language revival in the Aboriginal community, but over time more people became involved, giving family support for the language classes including participation in public performances where the Butchulla language is used.

The pedagogy for teaching the language using Badjala lexemes, phrases and aspects of the grammar where practical and appropriate, has mostly been based on a learner driven model incorporating traditional and modern song styles, personal stories both oral and written and traditional and modern dance [yowar] and other relevant cultural activities. Some younger people involved in the classes long-term are now engaged as support teachers and role models for other young people wanting to learn Butchulla.

In SEQ Australia Aboriginal language speakers and custodians from the region of Hervey Bay and Fraser Island (Gari) speak a mixture of Aboriginal English, standard English and Butchulla, which once would also have included competency in other closely related and connected traditional languages from the region. The Butchulla language forms a strong component of our community identity and the primary language spoken by the Aboriginal language learners in a contemporary setting is a mixture of aspects of all of the above. The presenters will explain how language ecology of this particular region is considered a successful reclamation project based on the theory of linguistic and language ecology (Garner 2005).

Garner, Mark, 2005 Language Ecology as Linguistic Theory in Kaijian Linguistik dan Sastra, Vol. 17 No 33, 91-101
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:4th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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