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Language Communication and Technology II/III
Original Aussie Lingo

Nakarra Nakarra by Tjemma

The original Australians, the Aborigines, were the first people to use language on this sunburnt continent. Recently there has been a push to change the euro-centric term "Aborigine" to a term from one of the over 250 languages that were spoken here before european settlement.

Many Aborigines dislike the terms "Aborigine" and "Aboriginal" since these terms have been pushed on them, and they carry a lot of negative cultural baggage. Currently there is a move to look for a different, culturally specific word(s) to replace "Aborigine". The prefered idea is to use the word for a "person" from a local language.

When the Europeans arrived here there were about 250 languages spoken in Australia. Way back in the past, they were no doubt related, but most of them were as different from one another as English is different from Finnish or Punjabi.

Some languages of south-east Australia had a word - coorie, kory, kuri, kooli, koole - which meant "person" or "people". In the 1960s, in the form Koori, it came to be used by Aborigines of these areas to mean "Aboriginal people" or "Aboriginal person". It was a means of identification. But because of the wide variety of Aboriginal languages and cultures, koori has not gained Australia-wide acceptance, being confined to most of New South Wales and to Victoria.

Other terms are preferred in other regions: Murri over most of south and central Queensland, Bama in north Queensland, Nunga in southern South Australia, Nyoongah around Perth, Mulba in the Pilbara region, Wongi in the Kalgoorlie region, Yamitji in the Murchison River region, Yolngu in Arnhem Land, Anangu in central Australia, and Yuin on the south coast of New South Wales. For a while people of Tasmanian Aborigines called themselves koories, and then Tasmanian koories to distinguish themselves from the mainland koories.

These words being accepted into mainstream or even vernacular Australian English is still a long way off here in Australia. The widespread ignorance and lack of interest in this subject is sadly evident and we believe that the majority of Aussies do not know the names of the tribal lands that their universities and homes are built on top of. The land that our city lies on top of is that which belonged(s) to the Garna (or Kaurna) people, who themselves are currently undertaking steps to preserve their native tongue by compiling a dictionary. We believe that it is essential that Australian schools put Aboriginal cultural studies on the curriculum in a form that will put a stop to the ignorance that the majority of Aussies show regarding the original inhabitants of this land.

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