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Language with a local

Welcome to Language with a Local, readers. 2019 is here and, as declared by the United Nations General Assembly, the official International Year of Indigenous Languages is underway!

By Emily Tyaemaen Ford

In the NT there are more than 100 Aboriginal languages and dialects. These languages, and other Indigenous languages spoken all over Australia, are really diverse. Did you know that these have different sounds, vocabulary, and grammar?

This year, as the world collectively shines a spotlight on the amazing diversity of languages spoken today on planet Earth, my monthly column in Off The Leash aims to highlight and celebrate the languages spoken in Darwin.

To kick things off, I’ll share a bit about my languages with you all. I’m a Rak Mak Mak Marranunggu woman from Kurrindju. I speak my two languages, Rak Mak Mak Marranunggu and Rak Marrithiyel. My grandmother, Ngulilkang Nancy Daiyi, and family taught me these languages.

Rak Mak Mak Marranunggu is from Kurrindju (koo-rin-ju). Rak Marrithiyel is from Yen Tyalwu (yen chal-wu).

The two languages mostly have their own unique vocabulary and share a few similar words. There are not many speakers left of either language, so they are highly endangered.

I’m proud to learn to speak the languages of my ancestors and I am working on projects to revitalise and document them. 

Beginners guide to Rak Mak Mak Marranunggu  

Hello: Yo! (yoou)

Wet season: Wudum (woo-du-m)

Goodbye: Mamak (ma-ma-k) 

Very good!: Yo ngatla! (yoou nud-la)

Emily Tyaemaen Ford is a Rak Mak Mak Marranunggu woman from Kurrindju, who speaks two languages - Rak Mak Mak Marranunggu and Rak Marrithiyel. She is on the City of Darwin Youth Advisory Committee and works in Indigenous research at Menzies.

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