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Language with a Local - July

WE ARE NOW IN THE THICK of the International Year of Indigenous Languages. People have been celebrating this year all over the world, in Australia, and right here in the NT. It truly is a year to recognise, celebrate, and focus on Indigenous languages. 

Some of the reasons that maintaining Australia’s Indigenous languages are necessary is that the continuity of languages promotes health outcomes, resilience, cognitive functions, and employ-ment opportunities for Indigenous people. These languages, as is true of any language, hold intrinsic value. Languages matter whether there are a few thousand speakers, a hundred, or just one.

All languages are like living archives that carry within them pieces of cultural information from countless years of use and development. They have been drenched in meaning, from their grammar to vocabulary, and everything in-between. The nuances of a language hold so much information, shape the experiences of the people who speak them, and give a strong sense of identity to communities and individuals. Languages shape the way that we define the world and how we position ourselves within it.

So, dear reader, I hope that the next time you hear one of Australia’s Indigenous languages, you take a moment and think about what you’ve read here today.

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 Institue.

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