And still they speak DieriPeter K. AustinEndangered Languages Academic ProgrammeSOAS, University of LondonandANDC, Australian National University
Or …If you live long enough you may see wonderous things
Thanks to The Dieri Aboriginal Corporation Office for the Arts – DAC ILS grant Greg Wilson, independent education professional SOAS for granting research leave Amanda Laugesen (ANDC) & Jane Simpson (SLS) for funding and logistic support ANDC colleagues for their welcome, support and facilities (and the endless supply of Tim Tams) Luise Hercus for getting me started on this journey almost 40 years ago
Overview Background – Dieri people, place, language and culture A bit of history Dieri Yawarra project The DAC ILS project Remarks on language revitalisation Conclusions
Definitions from Ethnologue 9 Dormant – The language serves as a reminder of heritage identity for an ethnic community, but no one has more than symbolic proficiency. 10 Extinct – The language is no longer used and no one retains a sense of ethnic identity associated with the language.
A bit of local history 1862 – Alfred Howitt (King’s rescuer) meets Dieri at Lake Hope 1864 – Thomas Elder establishes cattle station at Lake Hope 1867 – Moravian and Lutheran missionaries – Killalpaninna and Kopperamanna 1869 – Lutherans return to Bethesda after police station established at Kopperamanna 1870 – anonymous – Diyari reader: contains list of symbols, syllables, words, sentences and short texts – probably by Schoknecht 1871-3 – Schoknecht – 37pp German-Dieri and Dieri-German vocabulary 1871-3 – Schoknecht grammar of Diyari (translated by Schoknecht’s son in 1947) almost identical to Flierl (?1879) and Reuther (1899); these later grammars were probably refinements of Schoknecht’s earlier work.
Missionary products ?1879 – Flierl – a grammar of Dieri essentially the same as that of Schoknecht (above) together with parallel entries for Wangkanguru. 1880 – Flierl – a translation of catechism 1884 – anonymous – manuscript translation of Epistles and Gospels from German into Dieri by unknown author (probably Flierl who left to go to New Guinea this year). 1897 – Reuther and C. Strehlow – translation of the New Testament. The spelling is identical to Flierl (1880) 1899 – Reuther extensive manuscript materials 1900 – Siebert Dieri legends in the mission spelling with German translations and commentary. 1902-4 – Howitt and Siebert more Dieri legends in English translation. ?1914 – Riedel translation of the Old Testament four parts 381 pp, never published
Mission closed 1915 – South Australian government orders closure of all German-owned properties; Dieri join Aboriginal camps on stations to south (Wire Yard, Mulka, Finnis Springs, Muloorina, Murnpeowie and Mundowdna) looking for work, and also further east, around Broken Hill Missionaries and their descendants continue to visit Dieri yearly until 1960s
Language use and literacy in Dieri 1907 – 1914 postcards in Dieri written by Rebecca Maltilina to Dorothea (Dora) Ruediger at Bethesda mission (see Aboriginal History 1986) 1940s and 1950s letters by several Dieri speakers to Theodor (Ted) Vogelsang, son of lay mission helper Hermann Vogelsang about their daily lives, sharing news about what was going on among the community
(Pseudo)-linguistic research 1937 – Fry collection of traditional Dieri stories written by Sam Dintibana with glosses by Ted Vogelsang 1938-41 – Berndt and Vogelsang texts and vocabulary in mission spelling (except ŋ for ng), word-by-word gloss by Ted Vogelsang 1953 – Berndt ethnographic text purporting to describe pre-contact day in the life of a Dieri man. Sydney (Capell) spelling
Linguistic research 1968-70 David Trefry – Dieri phonetics 1968-72 Luise Hercus – Alec Edwards, Ben Murray recordings 1974 Peter Austin BA Honours thesis on Dieri 1975-1978 Peter Austin PhD thesis on grammar of Dieri 1981 A Grammar of Diyari, South Australia CUP 1980s Papers on literacy, texts, biography of Ben Murray Late 1980s end of Austin’s active research
Community developments 1990s- Formation of Dieri Aboriginal Corporation – 600 members in Maree, Lyndhurst, Broken Hill, Port Augusta, Whyalla DAC purchases properties, Port Augusta & Broek Hill Purchase of Maree Station and camp ground – handover at dawn 20th September 2008 ABC news story
This Consent Determination covers some 47,000 square kilometres of land, with part of its south- eastern boundary extending into the Strzelecki Regional Reserve and part of its western boundary extending into the Lake Eyre National Park Lander v State of South Australia  FCA 427 (1 May 2012)
Dieri Yawarra project 2008-2010 Greg Wilson (then at Department of Education and Children’s Services) co-ordinated Dieri Yawarra resulting in print resource and CD-ROM. Greg worked with Dieri Resources Development Group in Port Augusta, most of whom are now involved with the current ILS project. 15 interactive components introducing learners to Dieri vocabulary and grammar, like Ngakarni palku ‘my body’ or Karnaya putu ‘people’s things’.
Ngayana Dieri Yawarra Yathayilha 2010-2011 development of language lessons for schools on model of Arabana programme, Powerpoint shows, not published Recordings of 2000 sound files, mostly vocabulary and simple sentences Bernard Schebeck processes Reuther dictionary Peter Austin meets Port Augusta group, August 2010, identifies fluency levels Application for ILS grant by DAC 2011 Grant awarded July 2012, project begins October 2012
ILS project Workshops February 2013 Adelaide, March 2013 Port Augusta, April 2013 Adelaide Materials development – songs, bilingual dictionary, Willsden Primary school language programme Blog dieriyawarra.wordpress.com 15 posts (February-March), 653 hits (as of 2013- 02-19) Community engagement process
The words in DieriNgathu traina ngarayi yara wakararnanhiNgathu wata dityi nhayirna warayiJailanhi nganha kurrarna Folsom PrisonanhiYa traina wapayilha San Antonaya
Interim summary 40 years ago Dieri people were living in tin shacks on margins of Maree, Port Augusta, Broken Hill Today, 2 generations later, we have major changes: A clear corporate identity Ownership of land Recognition of traditional ownership and relationships with miners
Strong political leadership, championing language issues Enthusiastic community participation (5% of DAC participating in each workshop) Desire and willingness to learn Good resource base – funds, recordings (Austin 50 hours, Hercus 12 hours, Wilson 2,000 files), grammar, dictionary, talented and well-trained community members (teachers, health professionals, singer etc.), highly experienced teacher-linguist, available linguist who worked with previous generations
Challenges DAC internal politics Fluent speakers all old and very shy, good semi- speakers shy and “expensive” Issues of planning, processes and flexibility Lack of staff with back office skills Monitoring and evaluation lacking School programme implementation Availability of teacher-linguist and linguist …
Language revitalisation “Language revitalization, language revival or reversing language shift is the attempt by interested parties, including individuals, cultural or community groups, governments, or political authorities, to reverse the decline of a language … Although the goals of language revitalization vary by community and situation, a goal of many communities is to return a language that is extinct or endangered to daily use. The process of language revitalization is the reverse of language death” (Wikipedia) But intergenerational transmission is not the only worthwhile outcome of language revitalisation – e.g. Dorian 1987; Austin & Sallabank 2013 on the importance of the concomitant revitalisation of people
Issues with revitalisation Some linguists are opposed. Dimmendaal (2004: 84): “Revitalisation, in my view, should not be given high priority. When individuals decide to give up their mother tongue, they usually have good reasons for doing so.” Blench (2007: 53): “Almost by definition it is hardly worthwhile to spend limited resources on languages whose speakers seem to be deserting them.” Lack of funding support (cf. ELDP, DoBeS, DEL) Poor intellectual cousin of documentation
More issues Some examples of practice but virtually no theory Weak ethnography (meta-documentation) Anecdotal reports but little scientific analysis Political quagmire In Australia Much of rhetoric about language revival is based on “basket cases” (Amery, Giacon, Zuckerberg) Dieri, Arabana and Adnyamathanha are different Pedagogy issues – ACARA
Crystal – how to revitalise your language increase your prestige within the dominant community increase your wealth increase your legitimate power in the eyes of the dominant community have a strong presence in the education system write down the language make use of electronic technology But what is the process? How do we do this?
The next steps for the Dieri project Ethnography of Dieri revitalisation Establishing clear goals and means to achieve them Role of school programmes vs. community engagement (trips to country where language would be used) Monitoring and evaluation Most difficult of all – longer term sustainability