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Language with a local - Larrakia

Welcome to Language with a Local, which celebrates the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

By Emily Tyaemaen Ford

Darwin - it's a special place. It's the home of people from all over the world, languages and accents from nearly every corner of the globe are spoken here daily.

However, there is one language that has been spoken here since time immemorial and is still being spoken today: the Larrakia language. 

This language belongs to the Larrakia people who are the Traditional Owners of the Darwin region, including Trent Lee, who had a chat with us about the importance of traditional languages.

“I believe all languages are impor-tant, especially to the people of the tribe they belong to as it gives them power, pride, knowledge, strength, and a sense of belonging,” he says.

“It is so important for me to keep our Larrakia language alive because when you speak it on country, the land, trees, and waters hear you and country will talk to you through the rain, wind, and animals.

“I am so proud to have been taught our language from my Dad, Uncles, Aunties, and my Alap... because they were able to keep it alive and now I do the same with my children, nephews, and nieces to ensure it is passed on and kept alive.”

A special thanks to Aunty Bilawara Lee and Trent Lee for their time and speaking with me about their language. 

Beginners Guide to the Larrakia Language 

Mayilema (Mah-lemah) the current season that changes around May. This season is known for goose egg collection, knock-‘em-down winds, and spear grass.  
Ma Muk (Mah Muck): See you later!
Batji (Bart-gee): Good!

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 Northern Institute. 

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