Volume 28, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0155-0640
  • E-ISSN: 1833-7139
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


The Indigenous languages of southeast Australia have often been written off as a hopeless cause in current debates about language revitalization. In this paper we question this pessimism and report on some of the progress that has been made in recent years. It will be shown that revitalization is not only possible but contributes to the strength of identity of Indigenous people and to a heightened awareness for other Australians. We consider the role of education in this process and conclude with some thoughts on the appropriate contribution of the academy.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Amery, R.
    (1993) Encoding new concepts in old languages: a case study of Kaurna, the language of the Adelaide Plains. Australian Aboriginal Studies, 1, 33–47.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. (2000) Warrabarna Kaurna! Reclaiming an Australian language. Lisse: Swets and Zeitlinger.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. (2001) Language planning and language revival. Current Issues in Language Planning2, (2&3), 141–221. doi: 10.1080/14664200108668023
    https://doi.org/10.1080/14664200108668023 [Google Scholar]
  4. (2002) Indigenous language programs in South Australian schools: issues, dilemmas and solutions. Paper commissioned by the NSW Office ofthe Board of Studies. Available atwww.boardofstudies.nsw.edu. au/aboriginal_research/pdf_doc/indig_lang_sa_amery.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Baldauf, R. B. Jr.
    (1996) Back from the brink? Revival, restoration and maintenance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. Southwest Journal of Linguistics, 15(1&2), 1–22.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Board of Studies NSW
    Board of Studies NSW (1998) New South Wales Aboriginal languages interim framework K-I0. Sydney: Board of Studies NSW. Available atwww.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/aboriginal_research/pdf_doc/aborlang_inframe.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Board of Studies NSW
    Board of Studies NSW (1999) NSW Aboriginal languages case study sample. Sydney: Board of Studies NSW.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Board of Studies NSW
    Board of Studies NSW (2003a) Aboriginal languages: advice on programming and assessment for stages 4 and 5. Sydney: Board of Studies. Also available atwww.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabus_sc/pdf_doc/ab_lang_k10_support.doc
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Board of Studies NSW
    Board of Studies NSW (2003b) Aboriginal languages K-10: descriptions of levels of achievement – consultation draft. Sydney: Board of Studies. Available atwww.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabus_sc/pdf_doc/ab_lan-guageK10_dla.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Board of Studies NSW
    Board of Studies NSW (2003c) Aboriginal languages. Mandatory and elective courses. K-10 syllabus. Sydney: Board of Studies NSW. Also available at: www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabus_sc/pdf_doc/ab_language_kl0_syl.doc
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Board of Studies NSW
    Board of Studies NSW (2004a) Aboriginal languages K-10: assessment for learning in a standards-referenced CD Rom. Sydney: Board of Studies.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Board of Studies NSW
    Board of Studies NSW (2004b) Winangaylanha dhayn-gu gaay: understanding Aboriginal languages CD Rom.Sydney: Board of Studies.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Bowe, H. , Peeler, L. & Atkinson, S.
    (1998) Yorta Yorta language heritage. Clayton, Vic: Dept. of Linguistics, Monash University.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Briggs, G.
    (1999) Yorta Yorta. Language of the Month Series: 8. FATSIL Newsletteravailable atwww.fatsil.org/LOTM/oct99.htm.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Crystal, D.
    (2000) Language death. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9781139106856
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139106856 [Google Scholar]
  16. (2004) The language revolution. Cambridge: Polity Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. DAA
    DAA (2004) NSW Aboriginal languages policy. Sydney: NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs. Available at: www.daa.nsw.gov.au/policies/langpolicy.html
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Dalby, A.
    (2003) Language in danger: the loss of linguistic diversity and the threat to our future. New York: Columbia University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. DECS
    DECS (2004) Aboriginal languages programs in South Australian government schools and centres. Various statistics and other data from surveys conducted during 2004. Learning Outcomes and Curriculum Group, Department of Education and Children’s Services, Adelaide.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Dixon, R.M.W.
    (1991) The endangered languages of Australia, Indonesia and Oceania. In R.H. Robins & E.M. Uhlenbeck (Eds.) Endangered languages, (pp.229–255). Oxford/New York: Berg.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. (1997) The rise and fall of languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511612060
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511612060 [Google Scholar]
  22. Eades, D.
    (1979) Gumbaynggir. In R.M.W. Dixon & B. Blake (Eds.) Handbook of Australian languagesVol.1 (pp.244–361). Canberra: Australian National University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. (1991) Communicative strategies in Aboriginal English. In S. Romaine (Ed.) Language in Australia (pp.84–93). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511620881.006
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511620881.006 [Google Scholar]
  24. Ford, L. & Klesch, M.
    (2003) “It won’t matter soon, we’ll all be dead”: The Wadeye Aboriginal languages project. RetrievedApril, 25, 2005, fromwww.uq.edu.au/insideout/pdfs/fordklesch.pdf.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Hartman, D. & Henderson, J.
    (Eds.) (1994) Aboriginal languages in education. Alice Springs: IAD Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Hill, J.
    (2002) “Expert rhetorics” in advocacy for endangered languages: who is listening, and what do they hear?Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 12(2), 119–33. doi: 10.1525/jlin.2002.12.2.119
    https://doi.org/10.1525/jlin.2002.12.2.119 [Google Scholar]
  27. Hobson, J.
    (2004) Learning to speak again: towards the provision of appropriate training for the revitalization of Australian languages in New South Wales. In J.A. Argenter & R.M. Brown (Eds.) On the margins of nations: endangered languages and linguistic rights. Proceedings of the 8th Foundation for Endangered Languages conference, Barcelona (Catalonia), Spain 1-3 October 2004 (pp.53–57). Bath: Foundation for Endangered Languages.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Hosking, D.F. , Lonsdale, T.J. , Troy, J.F. & Walsh, M.J.
    (2000) Strong language strong culture. New South Wales strategic language study. Final report and strategy action plan. Canberra: AIATSIS.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Johnson, S.
    (1987) The philosophy and politics of Aboriginal language maintenance. Australian Aboriginal Studies, 2, 54–58.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Laughren, M.
    (2000) Australian Aboriginal languages: their contemporary status and functions. In R. M. W. Dixon & B. J. Blake (Eds.) The handbook of Australian languages (pp.1–32). Vol.5. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Learner, R.
    (Ed.) (2004) Indigenous languages of Victoria: revival and reclamation. VCE study design. East Melbourne: VCAA. www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/vce/studies/lote/ausindigenous/ausindigindex.html
    [Google Scholar]
  32. McConvell, P. & Thieberger, N.
    (2001) State of Indigenous languages in Australia -2001. Canberra: Department of the Environment and Heritagewww.ea.gov.au/soe/techpapers/languages/
    [Google Scholar]
  33. McKay, G.
    (1996) The land still speaks: review of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language maintenance and development needs and activities. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Maffi, L.
    (2003) The “business” of language endangerment: saving languages or helping people keep them alive?In H. Tonkin & T. Reagan (Eds.) Language in the twenty-first century: selected papers of the millenial conferences of the center for research and documentation on world language problems (pp.67–86). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/wlp.1.07maf
    https://doi.org/10.1075/wlp.1.07maf [Google Scholar]
  35. Mühlhäusler, P. , Wilson, G.
    & South Australia Department of Education and Children’s Services (2004) Ecological issues in language revival. Hindmarsh: DECS Publishing.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Cooperative (MALCC)
    Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Cooperative (MALCC) (2001) A Gumbaynggir language dictionary = Gumbayngirr bijaarr jandaygam. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Nagy, N.
    (2000) What I didn’t know about working in an endangered language community. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 144, 143–60.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Nash, D.
    (1998) Indigenous languages component. In M. Pearson , D. Johnston , J. Lennon , I. McBryde , D. Marshall , D. Nash & B. Wellington . State of the environment: environmental indicators for national state of environment reporting – natural and cultural heritage, by state of environment (Envi-ronmental Indicator Reports) (pp.19–20; 77–86). Canberra: Environment Australia, Department of the Environment.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Newry, D. & Palmer, K.
    (2003) “Whose language is it anyway?” Rights to restrict access to endangered languages: a north-east Kimberley example. In J. Blythe & R. M. Brown (Eds.) Maintaining the links. Language, identity and the land. Proceedings of the seventh conference presented by the Foundation for Endangered Languages. Broome, Western Australia, 22-24 September 2003 (pp.101–106). Bath: Foundation for Endangered Languages.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Pensalfini, R.
    (2004) Eulogizing a language: the Ngarnka experience. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 168, 141–156.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Schmidt, A.
    (1990) The loss of Australia’s Aboriginal language heritage. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Thieberger, N.
    (2002) Extinction in whose terms? Which parts of a language constitute a target for language maintenance programmes?In D. Bradley & M. Bradley (Eds.) Language endangerment and language maintenance (pp.310–328). London: Routledge Curzon.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Tunstill, G.
    (2004) Adnyamathanha years R-10: a teaching framework for revival and second language learning in years reception to ten. Hindmarsh, SA: DECS Publishing.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Walsh, M.
    (1997) Cross cultural communication problems in Aboriginal Australia. Canberra: North Australia Research Unit, Australian National University.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. (2001) A case study of language revitalisation in ’settled’ Australia. Current Issues in Language Planning, 2(2&3), 251–8. doi: 10.1080/14664200108668027
    https://doi.org/10.1080/14664200108668027 [Google Scholar]
  46. (2002) Teaching NSW’s Indigenous languages: lessons from elsewhere. Paper commissioned bythe NSW Office of the Board of Studies. Available atwww.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/aboriginal_research/pdfdoc/teachindiglangnswwalsh.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  47. (2003) Raising Babel: language revitalization in NSW, Australia. In J. Blythe & R. M. Brown (Eds.) Maintaining the links. Language, identity and the land. Proceedings of the seventh conference presented by the Foundation for Endangered Languages. Broome, Western Australia, 22-24 September 2003 (pp.113–117). Bath: Foundation for Endangered Languages.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. (2005) Learning while revitalizing: Aboriginal languages in New South Wales, Australia. In S. May , M. Franken & R. Barnard (Eds.) LED2003: Refereed conference proceedings of the 1st international conference on language, education and diversity. Hamilton: Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research, University of Waikato.
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Wilson, G. & Hercus, L.
    (2004) Arabana, years R to 10: an Arabana teaching framework for language revitalization and second language learning from reception to year ten. Hindmarsh, SA: DECS Publishing.
    [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error