Importance of traditional language
0:10 In Yarrabah, people were forcibly removed from their traditional lands. During the process,
0:16 they were not allowed to speak their traditional languages.
0:19 A language had developed in the community, a fusion of Standard Australian English and
0:24 their traditional languages, and it became a creole.
0:28 In today’s context it’s called Yarrie Lingo. What is this?
0:32 Water. Yeah? Where’s the water? Is she at the beach
0:37 or something? Back beach.
0:39 Yeah, your mum went out back beach, ay, yeah, well that migloo, was talking about back beach
0:44 too, but he said it in a different language. You sounded like you were talking Yarrie Lingo,
0:49 ’cause you’re a little Yarrie girl ay? We never correct the children’s – when they’re
0:53 speaking Yarrie lingo, because that’s the language that they were hearing since they
0:57 were born. So we keep supporting them and, and bear in mind too, that the children are
1:02 still developing their first language. So that is important that they continue to learn
1:07 through their home language. This is you, because you speak Yarrie lingo,
1:12 and you’re talking. That’s my brudder, he lookin’ at all the rainbow. But the migloo,
1:20 saying the same thing what you said, but in English, he’s saying it like this. That’s
1:25 my brother, he is looking at all the rainbows in the sky.
1:32 It’s about us acknowledging the child’s first language and saying to them you know, you’re
1:36 a Yarrie girl, you live in Yarrabah. This is the language that you speak, and there’s
1:40 nothing wrong with that language, it’s not a broken English, it doesn’t need fixing.
1:44 If you’re able to speak Yarrie Lingo and Standard Australian English at the same time, that
1:49 gives you an advantage. You know you can tell when a relief teacher walks in, and she comes
1:55 in here and talks Standard Australian English, you sort of see a lot of behaviour problems
1:59 being picked up. But they’re not naughty; it’s just that they haven’t understood the
2:04 teacher’s Standard Australian English. So that’s why it’s so important.
2:08 As you saw Nerridean this morning when she was reading that story, a lot of the time
2:12 while she was reading that story she code switched a lot, because there are often big
2:15 words in those stories and the kids don’t understand what that’s about. And also linking
2:19 it back to community, their community experiences.
2:22 Where you stay, what your creek called?
2:26 A mangrove. You are so clever.
2:28 A big dinosaur. Hey look, Austin say, this is a mangrove, look.
2:34 Does look like mangrove? Where we got mangrove up here in Yarrabah. Austin where
2:38 you see a mangrove? In the water.
2:40 In the water, which place? We got a lot of mangrove here, ay, we’re Yarrie, ay.
2:56 We work in three languages: we work in Standard Australian English, and I attempt to speak
3:02 that at all times to try and keep that division of language. Miss May and Miss Mary or Miss
3:09 Miklin our other teacher aides, speak Yumplatok, which is sort of like the Torres Strait Island
3:14 creole which is used throughout the region. There is also Kulkalgau Ya which is what they
3:19 call a sleeping language. Some of the elders here speak it. It’s part of the revitalisation
3:25 process that we’re trying to start to incorporate that.
3:29 What about this one, what’s this one? Crocodile
3:32 What do we say in Yumplatok? Crocodile. Crocodile.
3:35 What about in Kulkalgau? Koedal
3:38 Koedal, well done. When we use those three languages, we always
3:43 present them visually in three different colours. Standard Australian English is always in black,
3:49 Yumplatok always in blue, and the traditional language, Kulkalgau Ya, is always in red. And
3:55 that’s to try and make that distinction between those languages.
4:00 At last he felt cool, cool, water on his hot, tired, sandy body. And as he swam down, down,
4:09 down he knew, it’s the sea he sang. It’s the sea.
4:16 At last when he go down, go into the water, and he make himself mina nice and cold, because
4:22 then he mina try it when began to prod the sun he be sun hot, and go into the water and
4:28 swim, swim, swim, then him think yes, at last, the salt water, the salt water.
4:35 And that’s the end of our story. Miss Kathy was talking in English, and I was
4:42 talking in Yumplatok. Some of the things that we shared on the mark is, uh, the name of
4:49 the animal, like turtle, and in Yumplatok, we say tortle, and in Kulkalgau, that’s in
4:59 other community, we speak Waru.
5:15 I try to verbalise whether we’re talking English
5:18 or language, so that the children can learn to swap between the two.
5:21 Can you jiggle around like jellyfish? Jiggle, jiggle, jiggle. This time, can you find your
5:29 own colour square and sit down. Also because creole is quite similar to English,
5:33 it can be hard for the kids to know when they’re hearing or speaking one or the other. So I
5:39 make a point now of saying, shall we sing good morning in English first or language
5:43 first. It’s just a way of getting into their mind that they’re speaking two different languages,
5:48 in fact three most days.
Some Queensland early childhood education and care services in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are able to incorporate local and traditional languages into programs, with the help of the community.
The language children hear at home and in their community is the first way they learn to understand their world and communicate. In many cases, this is not Standard Australian English.
Language is a tool for expression and communication. Words allow children to give meaning to their world, with specific words for what is important and unique to a certain culture. This is important for building cultural identity and communication skills.
Quality services in Queensland aim to create an inclusive environment for all children, including children with English as a second language and children using sign language. Some quality early childhood education and care services in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities incorporate local and traditional language into their programs, working with community members and Elders to do so.
Little ones are still developing their first language when they start attending kindy, so it is important that they are able to continue to learn their first language as well as Standard Australian English and the differences between these languages.
Video originally sourced from the DET Foundations For Success website, providing additional guidance to the Early Years Learning Framework for the delivery quality early learning programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.