GMP | Celebrating NAIDOC Week: Our Languages Matter

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Writer Samuel Curkpatrick, GMP VIC/TAS Partnership Coordinator

This year's theme for NAIDOC week is 'Our Languages Matter'. There are many inspiring and challenging things to learn about Indigenous languages in Australia: their diversity—there are over 300 languages indigenous to Australia; the way languages adapt and change; stories of the few surviving speakers of dwindling tongues, guardians of unique perspectives on the world, and revival, with communities working to reconstruct the language of their grandparents. Language opens the world to us. It does so much more than give names to things. Language allows us to be relational, giving us joy in shared words. And it lets us put thoughts and experiences into words, to raise new possibilities. Language is creative. In Ngukurr, southeast Arnhem Land, Kriol is a language that has been spoken for numerous generations, representing a colourful encounter between English and Indigenous languages. Jidan is the Kriol word meaning' sit down'. Jidan also means 'to exist' or 'to be'. The Kriol Baibul reads: The Word became flesh and 'jidan langa melabat,' literally, 'sat down with us'. This translation enriches our understanding of human existence. To have life—to jidan—is to be relational, living side by side with others. If we are to have a reconciled future, surely this also begins in God's creative word of humility and solidarity sitting down with us.

From GMP's In Partnership magazine.

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