Prof. Jaky Troy talks with Prof. Nick Enfield about the background and impact of her book, ‘The Sydney Language’ (1993). Part of the Sydney Social Sciences and Humanities Advanced Research Centre podcast series ‘In conversation with Professor Nick Enfield‘.
There has been a lot going on at Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring in the past few months!
We hope you enjoy this snapshot of what’s been going on at MDWg. Don’t hesitate to send us an email or follow us on social media if you’d like to find out more about any of our activities.
Meet the Team – June 2020
Covid-19 creates challenges and opportunities
A word from our CEO, Knut Olawsky:
The past few months have been a challenging time for people around the globe, including Australians. At MDWg, the impact of COVID-19 was felt in a number of different ways. In March we had to close our doors to the public and send employees to work from home. The state government then recommended that Indigenous people return to their communities “out bush” and most of our Miriwoong staff followed this advice, with some establishing a lifestyle with many traditional traits. During this time, our team of linguists and office staff developed working-from-home kits and stayed in contact with our Miriwoong colleagues through regular phone calls. Naturally, all regular activities such as language lessons, school visits, radio recordings, and meetings had to be put on hold. However, we still kept very busy! Meetings were held via videoconference and the team prepared remote learning kits that were sent to our partners in order to keep up language learning.
With the Language Centre closed, we also felt the financial impact, as our income-generating activities such as consultancy, workshops, tour groups, or room hire dried up. The JobKeeper package helped us ensure that no one lost their job and it was good to see that many of our donors and supporters continued to keep us in their thoughts. We especially realised how important the faithful support through regular donations is, even if it is “only” $5-10 per month. Over a year, such contributions do make a big difference. Looking ahead, we are glad to report that our entire team is back at the language centre and is getting ready to go back to the schools and other partner organisations from Term 3 – in just two weeks’ time! It is good to see how things are coming back to normality – whatever the new normal may be.
Miriwoong Language Nest
Over the past few months, it has been great to see lots of school-based celebration of culture and language by children participating in the Miriwoong Language Nest and learning more about Miriwoong Language and Culture. When Covid-19 meant that we could no longer offer in-person classes, the Language Nest Team got creative and soon provided schools with fantastic Miriwoong language take-home learning packs. The Team are super excited about going back into schools and early childhood centres at the beginning of next term to continue their amazing work, teaching Miriwoong to over 400 children every week.
Language Support Officers
When the Language Centre was closed, we were working at home or out on country. We did worksheets about lots of different things: Linguistics, Miriwoong verbs, writing sentences. It was good practise, and kept us busy! It was good working out on country, teaching kids, but now it’s good to be back too. Now we’re preparing for going back to classes next term, preparing lessons and radio scripts. We always have fun here, doing all these things, working together.
Learn Miriwoong! App
This year has been an exciting year for technology at Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring. With the help of the Language workers and Language Nest, our project linguist George Britchford developed our very own Learn Miriwoong! App. All the images, voice recordings and design elements are homegrown right here at MDWg – that means all the voices you’ll hear are MDWg staff members speaking Miriwoong. The pictures were taken right here around Kununurra and the design of the app is as designed by the MDWg staff. Covering 10 units ranging from Birds, to Bush Tucker to Body Parts this app teaches over 250 words and lots of different sentence patterns. Different activities and games will help everybody, from the tiniest tot to fully grown adults, to learn Miriwoong!
Watch this space for a launch date!
Miriwoong Cooking Book Launch
On 19 February, we launched our first Miriwoong Cooking book. Authors Ingrid Ningarmara and Glennis Galbat-Newry were thrilled to have so many people come along to the launch. The book features four beautifully photographed step-by-step recipes in both English and Miriwoong, Have you got your copy yet? We look forward to being able to launch another book soon.
Tape Digitization Project
Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring houses an extensive cassette tape collection going back many decades (some of the tapes are from as early as the 60s!). These tapes contain many stories and songs from not only the Miriwoong people but from languages all around the Kimberley and beyond! MDWg’s project linguist, George, has been tasked with digitizing these tapes before they start to naturally degrade. This is no easy feat as Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring has over 500 tapes with each tape sometimes being over an hour long! This treasure trove of information contains languages which unfortunately gone dormant like Gajirrabeng and Jaminjoong, but from these proverbial seeds, new speakers will be able to grow and learn the heritage languages of this area. Nungali, Wardanybeng, Gajirrawoong, Jaminjoong, Ngarinyman, Ngaliwoorroo, Bugayngarri are just some of the amazing languages which can be heard on these tapes and now that they are digitized, they’ll be able to be kept safe for generations and generations.
If you’re interested in learning more about this project, or would like to organize a listen to these tapes, please contact George at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to our supporters!
Take a look at all of our generous sponsors on our website here, and find out why they believe in supporting the language and culture of the Miriwoong people. Anyone can support the work of MDWg, and every donation goes a long way in achieving our goal of saving Miriwoong. Visit our GiveNow page to find out more about how your support through a one-off or monthly donation can create sustainable, positive changes for the Miriwoong community.