Making links with language

I am shamelessly promoting a conference that I helped organise – Making Links 2008, a conference for not-for-profits on information technology, web development, multimedia & stuff like that. It has nothing whatever to do with bicultural parenting, but … yesterday there was a fantastic session about a database and training program called Miromaa  which has been set up to record Aboriginal languages in Australia.

The presenter, Daryn McKenny from Awarbukarl, was passionate about this project, which is really interesting. The fact that the database includes pix and video of words & concepts and that he made his whole presentation using digital stories (including some cute animations) rather than PowerPoint, made a potentially dry subject fascinating. I also learned that the Awabakal language – I think it’s from the  Newcastle area, where he’s based, was recorded by missionaries in the 19th century and the very first book of an ABoriginal language was published somewhere around the 1890s. So I cornered him after the session to talk about language preservation, and how his organisation Awarbukarl are figuring out how to rebuild a language which, except for a few words,  no one speaks anymore. He seemed happy to be cornered, it is his passion, after all.

Others at the session seemd more interested in the techie bangs & whistles, and I can’t say I blame them – although another presenter, open source advocate nancy Mauro-Flude later expressed concern about his reliance on microsoft technology. Gotta go, my internet credit’s running out! I feel like I’m back in Ghana …

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