Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Worlds Apart

In Germaine Greer's excellent article for The Guardian I was struck by this -
"The indigenous people who were driven off their land to end up at Wadeye came from 23 clans who would normally have hunted and gathered on their own traditional lands; between them they spoke seven languages. The land at Wadeye belonged to the Kardu Diminin, who spoke Murrinh-Patha; no one asked them how they felt about having to accommodate outsiders and no one asked the outsiders how they felt about having Murrinh-Patha taught to their children along with Catholic doctrine."
Looking for information on the Murrinh-Patha language I came across this list of nearly extinct languages. Look at the Australian section (170,000 are of Aboriginal descent, of whom 47,000 have some knowledge of an Aboriginal language). 267 (native) languages, 168 nearly extinct, 39 extinct. Lost.

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