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Are Australian Indigenous Languages Dying Out?
Home Reference & Education Language
By: Charlene Lacandazo Email Article
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Australia is one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world; although Australia has many aboriginal languages that are spoken in the country, the English language is the most common tongue that is spoken by the people. Due to the wide spread of the English language in Australia, the government itself is worried that there are so many languages have died out, and thus, today there are many rules and policies that are implemented by the government, to ensure the preservation of the indigenous languages of Australia.

But is it really too late to implement these rules in order to save these aboriginal languages? There were about 250 aboriginal languages spoken in Australia before the invasion, but today there are just only 145 aboriginal languages that are considered alive, but 110 of these languages are critically endangered. Over the years, the number of aboriginal language speakers has been declining, because of the major influence of the English language in the society; this issue seems likely to have been visible enough to the Australian government to jolt it into action.

Like every human language, Australian Indigenous languages are fully capable of expressing thoughts and ideas that are suitable for effective communication. Every language is symbolic of speakers’ traditions, culture, and the heritage of the community that they live in. The numerous Australian Indigenous languages are a significant part of the rich heritage of the country, and thus, its preservation is highly desirable and significant.

Most Australian Indigenous languages have several dialects, and each Australian Indigenous language is associated with an area of land and usually has a deep spiritual significance. Unfortunately, due to the declining number of native speakers of Australian indigenous languages, the government itself is facing numerous problems in saving their languages. Some of the language teachers who use indigenous languages during class discussion have no deep understanding and great knowledge about the aboriginal languages of Australia. Thus, most often student’s knowledge from learning the rich heritage of these languages is normally poor.

Experts believe that many most of these languages still alive today are not really fully spoken by anybody anymore; usually some indigenous people, who are well-versed in the English language, use a few words and phrases in their indigenous dialect during communication, but choose English as their new and first mother tongue. Hence, it makes them very poor at speaking and writing in their own dialect, which will affect efforts to preserve the endangered languages of the Australian indigenous peoples.

Although preservation of indigenous languages is given importance by the Australian government, it is necessary that teachers should be knowledgeable enough to teach their students, as these students are the next generation who will pass this knowledge to the community as a way of effective preservation and valuing the rich heritage of the Australian indigenous languages.

Charlene Lacandazo works for Rosetta Translation, a leading provider of professional translation for Romanian as well as court interpreting services.

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