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FAITH BAISDEN
FAITH BAISDEN
It's a pretty sad fact, but for most Australians, the name on the green sign they pass every day over the local creek has been their only exposure to an Indigenous language, and that slight contact, not enough to trigger any curiosity about the local people and their language. (Well let's face it, there are still so many who ask "really, is there more than one Aboriginal language?") It's also enormously sad to think that in many places, the street or suburb signs are the only remaining evidence of the language and culture of the traditional owners, with even many of these, distorted versions of the original word. It doesn't bear thinking on whether that will deteriorate in some areas to be the only words that are actually known in any form.

But that's why you are all doing what you do — to make sure that day never comes. It's also why the work being done through the Australian National Placenames Survey links in with the community language programs, with members of both teams working side by side to assist each other.The job that the ANPS team faces is absolutely huge. I was astounded to hear that there are maybe around 4 million names on the map of Australia, but then it's not a question I'd ever really puzzled over before! The feedback from community members who have been to workshops with the ANPS staff is that the sharing of information works well, with both teams working from the same base of respect for the languages and custodians.

You can read about the work of the ANPS in the article on page 7, and maybe take up their offer to get in touch and yarn about your area.

Regards,
FAITH BAISDEN