Australian TV show teaches Aboriginal language in bid to stop dramatic decline in native dialects

An Australian TV channel [National Indigenous Television – NITV] is broadcasting the first lessons in an Aboriginal language aimed at young children, in a bid to stem an alarming decline that has wiped out hundreds of native dialects. “Waabiny Time”, for three to six-year-olds, teaches “yes”, “no” and other basic terms in the Noongar language, which is spoken in the southwestern region around Perth. The show, broadcast daily and repeated on Saturdays, started last month with 13 half-hour episodes and proved so popular the entire series is now being screened again. Noongar is one of about 60 indigenous languages still spoken in Australia, compared with about 250 – and up to 700 dialects – in circulation at the time of white settlement in 1788. Of 13 Noongar dialects, just five now remain. “Among these 60 (languages), there would be only six or seven that are passed naturally from parents to children,” John Hobson, a University of Sydney lecturer in indigenous studies, told AFP. According to Mr Hobson, TV programmes alone cannot save endangered languages, but they can increase their profile. “It is very difficult to save a language, it requires the whole community efforts. TV programmes alone can’t restore them, but they raise awareness,” he said.

http://blogs.rnw.nl/medianetwork/australian-tv-show-teaches-aboriginal-language

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