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Terra Nullius in Australia

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21. Posted by majito (Respected Member 442 posts) 9y

Learning the Aboriginal language in schools isn't a bad idea; I think learning the culture and history and origins of the language is more relevant. It does have to be learned side by side with the history of white Australia as well. They're both real.

Most of the posts here are speculative at best. Not a lot of fact, and very clouded observations from Phileas.

22. Posted by dr.pepper (Travel Guru 316 posts) 9y

Quoting majito

Learning the Aboriginal language in schools isn't a bad idea; I think learning the culture and history and origins of the language is more relevant. It does have to be learned side by side with the history of white Australia as well. They're both real.

I agree. It's very important to learn Aboriginal history from an Aboriginal perspective. Too often, the 'Western' view of history starts when Australia was 'discovered' by Europeans. We ('westerners') recognise that there were people in Australia before us, but we don't consider their history quite as significant as ours. Arrogance is what you call that.

On that note, a great movie to watch is Ten Canoes. All the actors are Aboriginal and the story is narrated and told in an Aboriginal language (with subtitles if you need them). It's set in pre-colonial times, so it's like stepping back in time several centuries and immersing yourself in traditional Aboriginal culture. Fascinating and quite funny:)

23. Posted by james (Travel Guru 4136 posts) 9y

I don't see the point in learning an aboriginal language.

For a start, there are numerous languages so which one would you pick?

Secondly, who's going to teach it? Some drunks bought in from the outback? Where's the pool of teachers who can speak it?

Okay, I can now speak the language of the Pilbara Aboriginal community. Great.

24. Posted by HafJafMark (Respected Member 291 posts) 9y

Ive heard that there are roughly 5000 aboriginal languages.. that kinda makes it difficult to teach.

However i dont think languages should be allowed to die. thats exactly what the original perpretrators of the injustice would have wanted. Look at New Zealand - Maori is an official language of New Zealand - Often signs and public notices are displayed in both English and Maori. There was an attempt to exterminate Gaelic in Ireland too. Now its an official language of the EU and all our signs are written in both English and Gaelic.

Perhaps Australia could adapt a similiar approach. If Aboriginals are going to integrate (and by that I dont mean assimiliated) they must be made to feel Australian. I really dont think they do at the minute.

25. Posted by oslaue (Full Member 571 posts) 9y

well. your from the uk and they are one of the worst nations to ever exist if you are looking at a countrys past.

if i thought like you then every single person in ireland should bomb the uk. but no, only a very very small minority have it in for the uk from an irish prospective.

more so, you should be looking into the future not the past, it would be in your own interest to judge a country on its future progress, how it has improved than on its past. as they say...everyone makes mistakes.

does this mean you judge countrys like america, south africa, germany, china, uk etc of how they treated people?
eg how germany treated the jews were they killed millions? now germany is one of THE places to be in europe. germany has now ridiculed itself from its past as many countrys have.

there is no perfect country, all the major countrys in the world, some of the most powerful and richest have done some horrible things in the past and present.

maybe a country is a not so nice word to use maybe the word government should be used! eg many germans were against the slaughter of jews but if you stood up against the german regime then you and your whole family would be wiped out.

why do you think the uk has to live under terrorism for the rest of there days? these bombers didnt wake up one morning and suddenly decide that they want to bomb the uk. they have very good reasons in why, but murdering innocent is very wrong...i wouldnt say no about taking out the governments of such countrys though as all governments are corrupt.

[ Edit: Edited on Feb 21, 2007, at 1:42 AM by oslaue ]

26. Posted by Peter (Admin 5789 posts) 9y

Quoting james

There are numerous languages so which one would you pick?

Of the 250'ish languages that existed when Australia was westernised, only about 20 are still considered strong enough to survive the next century. Picking a language to learn could easily be based on the availability of speakers in the area, particularly when you consider that Aboriginal communities often speak the languages of neighbouring communities as well.

Secondly, who's going to teach it? Some drunks bought in from the outback? Where's the pool of teachers who can speak it?

I'm not sure what to think of your implication that all aboriginals who know their native tongue are drunks, but I'll just have to assume you were exaggerating for effect. You seem happy to imply that there are no people in the Aboriginal community capable of teaching their language to others. In fact, learning a new language is more about the person learning it than the person teaching it. Any good linguistic teacher can teach a student 'how' to learn a language and with that skill, a student should be able to learn from pretty much any native speaker. In the case of Aboriginals this is made very easy because many speak English as well.

Okay, I can now speak the language of the Pilbara Aboriginal community. Great.

Your sarcasm is duly noted, but I truly think that for the Pilbara community it would actually be great! You would have gone from having no connection to that community to actually having a foot in the door.

from VACL:

Why is language important?

Language is a part of culture, and knowledge about culture is a means of empowering people. Language contributes to the wellbeing of Aboriginal communities, strengthens ties between elders and young people and improves education in general for Indigenous people of all ages.

If language strengthens ties within Aboriginal communities, then it follows clearly that it also can strengthen ties with other communities (ie, white ones).

Let me expand on my own view of the importance of language.

As a traveller, I consider it my duty to learn a few words of the local language when I'm in a new country. I find it patronising to constantly address people in English when I am completely capable of learning a few simple phrases. Travellers can often be accused of bad behaviour when they start raising their voice at locals because the locals have no idea what they are saying. But really, why should they? They have always managed by speaking their own language, so why should this stranger mean they need to learn English. I have seen how proud people can get when they see you making an effort to learn their language. The smaller their language, the prouder they usually are. Pride in your language translates into pride in your culture. And pride in one's culture is central to the preservation of it.

From a pragmatic point of view, consider the benefits that would flow from a generation of Australians who could actually communicate with each other. Consider the education and health benefits for Aboriginal communities if a broader range of people could teach science, arts and finance in their own language. Consider how much quicker the Aboriginal students at your high school might have integrated if others around them could communicate with them in their own language.

"Language is power" and by expecting Aboriginal people to learn English without returning the favour, western Australians are unwittingly still "lording it over them".

Until you are willing to learn from someone else, how can you really expect them to be willing to learn from you?

27. Posted by Peter (Admin 5789 posts) 9y

Quoting HafJafMark

Ive heard that there are roughly 5000 aboriginal languages..

Incidentally, that is closer to how many languages there are in the entire world.

28. Posted by HafJafMark (Respected Member 291 posts) 9y

Sorry, that was supposed to be 500.

29. Posted by Peter (Admin 5789 posts) 9y

Quoting HafJafMark

Sorry, that was supposed to be 500.

Apparently there were about 250 languages in 1788, however only 2/3rds of those remain today according to this article, many of them in serious danger of extinction.

The 500 figure may be possible when dialects are taken into account.

30. Posted by HafJafMark (Respected Member 291 posts) 9y

Oh im not suggesting it was authorititive, just something id heard.