Australian theatre group revives lost Aboriginal language

Canberra, March 9 (IANS) A contemporary dance theatre group in southern Australia has revived a lost Aboriginal language by integrating native songs into public workshops and performances, the media reported on Wednesday.

Adelaide’s cutting-edge Australian Dance Theatre over the past two decades has merged the Kaurna language, historically spoken by the indigenous Kaurna people living in the Adelaide Plains, into cultural performances, while also holding open classes to promote the forgotten indigenous tongue, EFE news reported.

“When I first started I remember people saying, ‘Why even learn this language? There’s nobody to speak it to’,” said Jack Buckskin, a Kaurna descendant who now teaches the language to the Australian Dance Theatre singers.

The singers will perform the songs at this year’s annual WOMADelaide music and dance festival from March 11-14, which last year attracted over 95,000 people during the four-day event.

With only 10 percent of the original 750 distinct aboriginal languages and dialects still being learned, fighting to protect this vital part of Australian identity is key for cultural survival, according to Our Languages, a government-funded records department.

“It is a mistake to dismiss our languages as part of history and long gone,” says the department on its website, explaining that even ‘dormant’ languages, without any living speakers, can always be resurrected.

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