"Language of the Month" palawa Kani
pakana luwana liyini
THE CD pakana luwana liyini: Aboriginal Girls Sing was launched at the 2005 Aboriginal Family Xmas party in Launceston..Tasmania All the songs on the CD were written by young Aboriginal girls in after school Language sessions. Their language is palawa kani, the language being retrieved by Tasmanian Aborigines.
This is the second CD of songs in palawa kani. In 2003 children from Aboriginal Children's Centre in Hobart produced palawa kids kanapila: Aboriginal kids Dance and Sing.
The palawa kani Language Program of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre runs many language learning activities. We have regular weekly after school groups for boys and girls, camps away on Aboriginal lands, sessions with teachers aides and childcarers at Aboriginal Child Care Centres, playgroup and preschool sessions and adult sessions Language workers travel regularly to Cape Barren Island primary and high schools, both with all Aboriginal children.We also do more informal language activities, like song workshop and games at Community sports and cultural days, festivals and annual national celebrations like NAIDOC and National Aborigines Children's Day at present there are two fulll time Aboriginal language workers; and four part time Aboriginal support workers: and a Senior Aboriginal Language Worker trained in linguistic who researches and retrieves the words and grammar.
Lutana Spotswood and Jim Bacon
The children's songs are used as a learning resource, together with boooks and. accompanying pronunciation CDs which the Language workers also produce. There are five little story booklets so far; colouring books for action words and animals: ningina paruwi mimara - Get that bug!! picture book; luwutina (Aboriginal Children) picture kick, and our dictionary, which is being updated now with new words and grammar.
The Language Program do whatever we can to promote palawa kani language and Aboriginal language generally. We always emphasise that Aboriginal language belongs to Aborigines, and we control its use. For many years Tasmanian Aborigines debated whether white people should be allowed to use our language – after all, we’ve barely got it back again after nearly losing it altogether. In 2005 our community agreed to allow white people to use some types of palawa kani words on request if they follow our protocols.
Palawa kani language worker Lutana Spotswood gives a eulogy in the language at the state funeral for Tasmanian Premier Jim Bacon in 2004, white Michael Mansell translates.
Many community people build their confidence with language by giving welcomes to country. We write them for people or they write their own and we coach them in pronunciation. People say they feel so proud, even if they only have a bit of language, that they can speak is in public to honour our old people and show our language still lives. Welcomes have been given by Tasmanian Aborigines at all sorts of Iocal council and state government occasions. symphony orchestra. concerts. national and international conferences held both within Tasmania and overseas, and so on.
Tasmania has no government policy for dual naming of places. Despite this, one national park was renamed with an Aboriginal name - narawntapu National Park - despite some resistance, and Tasmania's most wellknown landscape feature, Mt Wellington has ifs Aboriginal name kunanyi proudly displayed right at the summit, with other Aboriginal words suiting the place - wind, cloud etc. The words were cut in to metal interpretation panels set up by Hobart Council In 2005. Lands returned In May 2005 were acknowledged at the handover ceremony and in the media with their original names truwana - Cape Barren Island, and lungtalanana - Clarke Island
Our article 'Tasmanian Aboriginal Language and Tasmanian Aboriginal Places' was published in PlaceNames Australia, Newspaper of the Australian National Place Names Survey , June 2005. We often have debates hl the local papers too with the usual suspect white ‘experts’ who think they know better than us how our languages work.
We know it’s essential for the life of language for people to speak it in ordinary life and pass it on in the family. So we work a lot with children, since they are so quick to learn, and in this way too parents get involved - but not as many yet as we would like to see. lt's a long slow lob, but we think we are making small advances. Waranta tapilii nayri, .waranta putiya makara, nina tunapri mina kani? We're going OK. we won't stop. You know what I'm saying?
Language worker Adam Urmston and trainee Child carer Tina Summers with luwutina Centre playgroup children, 2005.
Adam Urmston and Tina Summers
Photos and text: palawa kani Language Program Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre March 2006.