Australian Language Matters PDF Print E-mail

Dr. Graham McKay
Dr. Graham McKay
Australian Language Matters is the quarterly newsletter produced by Language Australia. The publication covers the broad range of issues relating to literacy and language. It presents views and analyses from contributing authors, updates on research and education, reviews resources and gives notice of conferences and other coming events. Issues concerning Australian Indigenous languages are regularly addressed. The July 1996 edition featured an article by Dr. Graham McKay, senior lecturer in linguistics and applied linguistics at Edith Cowan University in Perth.

His article entitled "This Ancient Land Still Speaks" addressed issues relating to indigenous language history, cultural and social implications of language loss and current developments in language education.

In discussing social justice and reconciliation, Dr. McKay emphasised the significance of language in the assertion of cultural identity.

"The eradication of language transmission played a major role in the two centuries of white conquest. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are giving indigenous languages a significant role in the attempt to assert their identity and claim their place in this country.

Recognition of indigenous languages and support for indigenous language programs stand alongside land rights, health, justice, education, housing, employment and other services as part of the overall process of pursuing social justice and reconciliation in Australia.

One might go so far as to say that without recognition of the indigenous people and their languages, many other programs will be less effective, because this lack of recognition will show that the underlying attitudes of the dominant society have not changed significantly."

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Excerpt reproduced with the permission of Australian Language Matters. Volume4 No.3 Jul/Aug/Sept 1996.