An International Year of Indigenous Languages-themed conference has highlighted the importance of keeping the conversation around language going.

22 February 2019

One participant said the presenters had “inspired me to keep up our local language Ngambri-Ngunnawal revival”.

The National Library of Australia conference, Language Keepers: Preserving the Indigenous Languages of the Pacific, focused on how the revitalisation of Indigenous languages is supporting cultural practice and healing.

Speakers from across Australia and New Zealand discussed how European travellers recorded the languages of the Pacific and the important work being undertaken to revive and maintain these ancient languages.

Conference participants were also treated to an introduction to the Ngunawal language, learning key phrases such as:

  • Yumalundi – Welcome
  • Ngolyun – farewell
  • Dhjan Yimaba – thank you
  • Australiawal Indegee Gurrang – National Library of Australia

The presentations from the two-day conference can be viewed on the National Library of Australia's Facebook page.

Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages are some of the most endangered in the world. Only around 120 are still spoken of the estimated original 250 languages and, of these, approximately 90% are at risk.

The International Year of Indigenous Languages is an opportunity to focus on the importance of language for identity, cultural diversity, spirituality, communication, social integration, education and development.

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