Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Tasmanian reborn (or not...)

Interesting story on Tasmanian today... The last speaker of a Tasmanian language died in 1905 (Wikipedia), and little material survives, so I'm not entirely confident in the historical reliablity of the newly announced reconstruction, especially since:

"There were thought to be a dozen or more Aboriginal languages in Tasmania and even more dialects. The language program has produced an amalgam of the languages."

Hmm. Do you speak European?

I'm not convinced that that "many within the Aboriginal community could speak palawa kani fluently" either. Still, it's worth a try. An interesting case of conlanging and language revitalization combining.


Suzanne E. McCarthy said...

Hello Lameen,

Thanks for linking to my blog. I will do likewise next time I try to edit my sidebar. :)

language said...

That's very strange. I used to make fun of Cornish revivalism, but I've come to respect it; this, however, is much more of a stretch, and I'm not sure in what sense it can be called a revival. But I suppose anything that gets people studying Aboriginal languages is all to the good...


pat said...

I remember those posts about Cornish on your blog, Language Hat... it was an interesting series of posts: joking about Cornish seemed so irresistible at first. But then the trickle of articles kept coming, and the comments about "well, if the Welsh can do it, so can we!" started to sound a bit less like nostalgia and more like a battle cry.

Who knows if this effort in Tasmania will take off, it will be an interesting to project to follow.

How varied are the languages there? Are the "ingredients" in this creation related languages? (I'm afraid I know well nigh nothing about the languages in that part of the world.)

Claire said...

Hi, sorry only just saw this (which is slack on my part, given that you're in my blogroll!)
Everything that we (we here = people outside the Tasmanian Aboriginal community) is in Crowley and Dixon's compendium of Tasmanian material. It's not much. We can't even be sure what family the languages belong to.
It's really badly transcribed, so we aren't sure what the transcriber was trying to write down half the time. There were probably at least 5 languages, maybe more.
You couldn't revitalise a language from what's published/written down, but this may well be a case of the community knowing more than they told the linguists.

Lameen Souag said...

Interesting point - a research project waiting to happen? It hadn't occurred to me that significant elements of the language might have been passed down, but now you mention it, it seems quite plausible...