If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to speak a First Nations language, a university is making it accessible through the online-based 50 Words Project.
Tracking Australia’s rich Indigenous history is a huge task, with more than 250 language groups across the country according to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS).
Thanks to the University of Melbourne’s Research Unit for Indigenous Language, you can visit a website to learn common phrases across many different Aboriginal languages, including helpful audio recordings to help nail pronunciation.
In an interview with NITV News, Ngalia man Kado Muir, who contributed to the project, believes the 50 Words Project is a good use of technology to introduce people to languages they previously may not have accessed before.
“Once you access that introduction, you can then take the necessary steps to identify language classes or books or other materials,” Muir said. “It’s all out there. It’s just a question of taking action to use it.”
Sure enough, I looked up the language of the Kaurna people, the original custodians of the Adelaide region, and there was a list of helpful words such as “niina marni” (hello) and “nakutha” (goodbye) that was super easy to find.
The idea behind the 50 Words Project is to create a resource for schools and organisations to learn 50 words in their local language, and for everyone to understand how diverse First Nations’ languages are across Australia.
In time for NAIDOC Week, the 50 Words Project includes more than 60 different languages to learn.
If you’re able to help contribute to the project, you can contact the University of Melbourne’s Research Unit for Indigenous Language team at [email protected].
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Chris is an award-nominated writer based in Adelaide who specialises in covering video games and technology. He loves Donkey Kong Country, sport, and cats. The Last Jedi is the best one, no questions asked.