Strategies for Re-Introducing Languages No Longer Spoken to Children and Adults

Rob Amery
Vincent (Jack) Kanya Buckskin

Course days, time, and location:
6/22, 6/23, & 6/24
3:30 - 5:15
Pacific, Room 110

Course Information:
This workshop presents a range of ideas and strategies for re-introducing ‘sleeping’ languages to children and adults. These are based on our experiences of teaching Kaurna to a range of learners over the last 20 years in a context in which the teachers are themselves learning the language. Re-introduction of Kaurna began with songs and song-writing. Amery and Buckskin have both independently developed innovative language learning games, have team taught Kaurna language and taught independently. A number of areas have been chosen strategically in which to re-introduce Kaurna, a sleeping language. Talking to babies and young children offers a very safe and rewarding place to start, where the beginning user of a sleeping language only receives positive reinforcement from babies and young children. Funerals bring people together often (almost a weekly occurrence for many Kaurna people). Resources, including translated well-loved hymns, prayers and liturgy, have been developed whereby people can conduct an entire funeral in the Kaurna language should they so desire. Football is an ever-popular sport amongst Aboriginal people. Having their own language on the football field might give the Aboriginal team the edge. Thus Kaurna can play an important functional role in football. Fishing is another popular activity, carried out with close friends or family members in a context where there is plenty of time and quiet in which to begin to use the language. The utterances needed in these activities are short and often stand-alone. They are thus relatively easy domains for re-introducing a language. Resources have been developed in the form of a learner’s guide (Kulluru Marni Ngattaitya! Sounds Good to Me) and PowerPoints complete with sound files to support these activities. The course will present these resources and activities together with practical sessions in which participants can develop their own resources in their own languages.

Session 1: Getting started. Names and naming. Greetings, leave-takings and welcomes. The Formulaic Method.

Session 2: Caretaker Speech – talking to babies and young children. Games for young children and language games for adults. Songs and song-writing.

Session 3: Targeted Strategies for re-introducing a language: Funerals, football and fishing.

Amery, Rob (2000) Warrabarna Kaurna: Reclaiming an Australian Language. Swets & Zeitlinger, Lisse, The Netherlands.
Amery, Rob & Alice Wallara Rigney with Nelson Varcoe, Chester Schultz and Kaurna Warra Pintyandi (2006) Kaurna Palti Wonga – Kaurna Funeral Protocols. (book, CD & Sympathy Cards) Kaurna Warra Pintyandi, Adelaide.
Amery, Rob with Kaurna Warra Pintyandi (2007) Kulluru Marni Ngattaitya! Sounds Good to me! A Kaurna Learner’s Guide. DRAFT PROTOTYPE VERSION.
Hinton, Leanne with Matt Vera & Nancy Steele (2002) How to Keep Your Language Alive: A Guide to One-on-one Language Learning. Heydey Books, Berkeley CA.

Course Documents:
Intro to Kaurna  
Names & Naming PowerPoint  
Greetings PowerPoint  
Formulaic Method PowerPoint  

Kaurna Paltinna (Songs)  
Ipila Wirra (Kookaburra Song)   
Yiityuko Wornindo (Christmas Songs)  

Kuya pirri wirkindi (Fishing)  
Australian Rules Football  

Instructor(s) Bio:
Dr. Rob Amery, Linguistics, University of Adelaide.  Rob completed a research Masters in 1985 at ANU on Dhuwaya, a koine variety of Yolngu Matha that has arisen at Yirrkala, northeast Arnhemland and a PhD at the University of Adelaide in 1998 (published in August 2000) on Kaurna language reclamation. He serves as consultant linguist to Kaurna language programs and community projects which incorporate Kaurna language. He works closely with members of the Kaurna community to reclaim the language from historical materials and develop the language for use in a range of contemporary contexts. This includes convening the Kaurna Warra Pintyandi (KWP) group, a small Kaurna language planning group consisting of Kaurna people and others involved in the teaching and development of the language. The KWP group meets monthly to address requests for names and translations and to work on Kaurna language projects. In 2007 Rob received a UNESCO award in recognition of this work.  Over the next few years he will be leading a new Mobile Language Team working to support community language projects across the state of South Australia.  Rob has previously worked in Aboriginal Health in remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory and Western Australia, and has taught linguistics at Batchelor College (now Batchelor Institute) and Northern Territory University (now Charles Darwin University). In 1993-94 he developed the national Australian Indigenous Languages Framework (AILF) for the teaching of Aboriginal languages at senior secondary level.

Vincent (Jack) Kanya Buckskin - Vincent, or Jack, as he prefers to be called, is a Kaurna and Narrunga man. Jack began working on Kaurna language projects at the University of Adelaide including the Southern Kaurna Placenames, Kaurna in the Public Arena, Kaurna Learners’ Guide and Kaurna Phonology projects. Jack began teaching Kaurna language at Warriparinga together with Rob Amery through the School of Languages. He now teaches this language program by himself as well as programs at Kaurna Plains School, Le Fevre HS and previously at Adelaide High School. Jack is a leading member of the Kaurna dance group called Kuma Karro ‘One Blood’ and previously danced with Taikurtinna ‘Family’ where he integrates Kaurna language into his performances. When not working and performing Jack likes to research and learn more about his culture and the history of his people. In July 2009 Jack was an invited participant at the ‘Young, Gifted and BLAK’ Aboriginal writers’ workshop in Sydney with Alexis Wright.

                                             Updated July 19, 2010 at 11:09 pm