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Wangkangurru Language Revitalisation in Birdsville

The MLT recently headed to Birdsville to work with the Crombie family (sisters Jean and Joyce and brother Jim) on developing a Wangkangurru language sentence book. Wangkangurru is still spoken in the Birdsville area by a few Wangkangurru families. The Crombie family has played an important role in its documentation and maintenance over the last few decades.

The MLT helped the Crombies to write the Wangkangurru text for a storybook that the sisters had drafted in English. The MLT facilitated the involvement of linguist Luise Hercus, who first recorded Wangkangurru speakers in the 1960s. Luise recorded the Crombie’s mother, Linda, who was an excellent Wangkangurru speaker. This family connection to the language is one of the main inspirations behind the Crombie’s efforts. At 92 years old, Luise in still engaging in fieldwork in the region, working with current speakers to help maintain the language for generations to come.

The project is a partnership between Red Ridge (Interior Queensland) and the MLT and brought to the forefront the continued work the MLT has been doing in the far north-east in remote communities including Birdsville and Oodnadatta. The sentence book project is funded by an ILA grant through the Attorney-Generals Department.

The Wangkangurru language sentence book will be published in the coming months, stay up to date with the MLT to find out where you can get a copy.