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Abiklausur Englisch LK - Aborigines struggle to find a voice

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Aborigines struggle to find a voice


Australia's native languages have drifted towards extinction and it could take generations to revive them


The Guardian

When Massachusetts Institute of Technology linguist Ken Hale died last year, a handful of little-spoken Australian languages died with him.
In the 1960s and 1970s he did more than any other researcher to understand the fascinating patchwork of languages spoken by indigenous Australians.
For many years, his own knowledge outlived that of the Aboriginal elders who taught him the remnants of their speech - now he too is dead, and Australia's native languages have drifted a step further from speech.

New South Wales' Aboriginal affairs minister Andrew Refshauge admits that the loss of this rich linguistic heritage is a source of shame for Australians and last month announced plans to save up to 70 languages in his state from the brink of extinction.
"We've done a lot over the last 200 years that we can be proud of," he said. "But one thing that we shouldn't be proud of is the loss of Aboriginal language. Today, I hope, marks the beginning of a very strong resurrection." Linguists and Aboriginal leaders welcomed the initiative, but doubts remain about how much difference the policy can make to Australia's decimated indigenous tongues.

At the time of European invasion in 1788 there are thought to have been 250 fully-fledged indigenous languages, as well as more than 400 dialects as distinct from one other as Spanish is from Portuguese. Almost all of them could claim several thousand fluent speakers and most Aborigines also had a good working knowledge of their neighbouring tongues.
Linguists say that only 20 now remain in a healthy state, most of them confined to the "top end" of the Northern Territory and Queensland. A further 70 are believed to be weak or dying, and 160 are regarded as extinct - although Aborigines frown on the term and prefer to describe them as "dormant".
The most dramatic decline took place during the "stolen generation" from the 1920s to the 1970s, when pale-skinned Aboriginal children were routinely removed from their families to be assimilated into white society.
Many parents were told they would lose their offspring if they spoke their own language. "I think many of them are still scared to speak it," says Wiradjuri language teacher John Rudder.

The process of extinction continued to accelerate even after the policy was abandoned. Between 1980 and 1990, the proportion of languages regarded as extinct rose from 25 to 64% - those regarded as healthy dropped from 25 to 8%.
The number of Aborigines claiming to speak their own language fell just as fast in the 1990s, from 21% in 1991 to 14% in 1996. However the first seeds of a linguistic revival have been sown and are now beginning to bear fruit.
Most dramatic has been the recovery of Kaurna, the original language of the Adelaide area. It was believed to have disappeared in 1931 with the death of Ivaritji, its last Aboriginal speaker. Its only remaining record was a dictionary privately published by two German missionaries in 1840, but since the mid-1980s local indigenous groups have made a concerted effort to bring Kaurna back into use. Aboriginal leaders now use it to give more than 100 speeches a year.

Despite such successes, the process of bringing Aboriginal languages back into use remains an uphill struggle. "The only successful instance of modern language revival has been Hebrew, but there are huge differences here," said Michael Walsh of the University of Sydney.
"The potential speech community for indigenous languages is minute - in the best cases you are looking at a population of 2,000," he said.
Even the wealth of written and audiovisual material bequeathed to Australia's libraries by early settlers has its problems, according to Dianne Hosking of the Australian institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander studies.
"Many white people didn't quite hear the language properly, so you'll have 20 people writing down a word but none of them spelling it in the same way," she said. "Linguists need to spend a long time working out how they actually sounded."
In Arnhem Land, the Aboriginal heartland on the tip of the Northern Territory, just two linguists are working to study and preserve up to 50 languages, half of which are as different from each other as English is from Navajo. Only six have so far been adequately studied.
"There are some languages where there's practically nothing to work with," says Michael Walsh.

Gary Williams, a Gumbayyngirr man who has been at the forefront of reviving his language at the Muurbbay Language Centre in Nambucca Heads, northern New South Wales, believes that the effort will none the less be worth it.
"Language gives you a fuller view of Aboriginal life," he says. "It fills in a whole lot of gaps because it's tied to land and to culture. It makes people remember things that they had forgotten.
"Our culture is like a jigsaw with so many pieces missing. We'll never get it all back, but language provides a lot of the pieces." One of the greatest signs of progress for Gumbayyngirr came in 1999 when Australia's only Aboriginal senator, Aden Ridgeway, gave part of his first senatorial speech in his ancestral tongue.
The New South Wales plan will hopefully plug the gap left by the gradual running down of national funding for indigenous language study - cut from A$ 7m (2.4m) to A$3.5 m since 1996 - and its example is already being examined with interest by Queensland's state government.
But Gary Williams does not expect there to be the overnight renaissance predicted by Mr Refshauge. "It could take two generations to lose a language," he said. "God knows how long it takes to revive and bring it back."

Tasks:

1. Outline the major developments in the history of Australia`s native languages.
2. Does the author take sides? Pay special attention to his diction and his line of thoughts.
3. Do the languages of minorities have a future in our world of globalization? Write a commment to be published in a magazine like Time or Newsweek. You will also have to include other aspects outside Australia.
Inhalt
Die Datei enthält meine Englisch-Lk-Abitur-Klausur aus dem Jahr 2003.
1.Outline the major developments in the history of Australia`s native languages.
2.Does the author take sides? Pay special attention to his diction and his line of thoughts.
3.Do the languages of minorities have a future in our world of globalization? Write a commment to be published in a magazine like Time or Newsweek. You will also have to include other aspects outside Australia. (1032 Wörter)
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07.02.2004 von unbekannt
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