There were 46 Aboriginal languages in South Australia in 1836. Due to settler-colonialism only 4 remain strong, 19 are partly spoken, and the remaining 23 have fallen silent. These languages present the greatest challenges for revival.
The Aboriginal Living Languages South Australia (ALLSA) is a co-operative partnership between the Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal Corporation, South Australian Museum and the Mobile Language Team at the University of Adelaide. It has been established to preserve and protect languages for future generations.
Image caption: Clyde Rigney at the Raukkan Gallery. Image © Ben Searcy 2021
Video caption: ©The Museum Board of South Australia 2021 Film: Max Mackinnon Same River Studio Music: V. O’Neil
Our story begins with the revival of Tanganekald, a riverine language of the Ngarrindjeri Nation. Milerum (Clarence Long), the last fluent speaker of Tanganekald sensed that his language and culture was at risk of disappearing. In the 1930s, Milerum worked closely with South Australian Museum ethnologist Norman Tindale to record and preserve Tanganekald for future generations. The ALLSA website draws from Milerum’s recordings and the contributions of Milerum’s descendants and the Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal Corporation as the cultural authority for Tanganekald.
This partnership has enabled the recovery of words, through archival research. Today, 25% of the Tanganekald language is incorporated within the Ngarrindjeri dictionary but without this research the rest of the language would be lost. Approximately 1700 Tanganekald words have been gathered as part of this project, with about 500 of these words presented on this website. Languages from other regions will be added and supported in the future.
Tanganekald people invite you to experience, learn and use their language. Start your journey here.
United Nations International Decade of Indigenous Languages
The United Nations General Assembly has declared the period between 2022 and 2032 as the International Decade of Indigenous Languages to draw attention to the critical status of many Indigenous languages across the world and encourage action for their preservation, revitalization and promotion. This website joins a network of activities, events and resources across the globe in celebrating and strengthening Indigenous languages.
Visit the Mobile Language Team website