My Grandmother's Lingo.

SBS has launched an online interactive documentary, My Grandmother’s Lingo, which highlights the endangered status of Indigenous languages in Australia.

My Grandmother’s Lingo tells the personal story of Angelina Joshua, a young Aboriginal woman dedicated to preserving her Indigenous language of Marra – a language now spoken by only three people in the remote East Arnhem Land community of Ngukurr.

According to data from the Australian Human Rights Commission, more than 90 per cent of Australia’s Indigenous languages are critically endangered. Without intervention, it's predicted Indigenous language knowledge will cease to exist in the next 10 to 30 years.

The documentary uses voice-activated gaming technology and animation to tell Joshua’s story. It is a collaboration between Joshua and two Indigenous creatives, animator and illustrator Jake Duczynski (Gamilaroi) and DJ and musician Kuren (Curtis Kennedy, Wiradjuri).

“My grandmother’s language is important and it’s up to us to keep it alive; to teach it. My grandmother was a very fluent Marra speaker. But a couple of years ago she passed. It was hard losing her – I thought, ‘Where am I going to learn now?’ This old lady taught us everything in Marra,” said Joshua. 

“I started working at the Language Centre and it’s become my responsibility to learn and teach Marra. My hope for the future is that people in the community will be able to speak their own languages.”

SBS head of editorial online and emerging platforms, Ben Naparstek said: “SBS is dedicated to telling unique stories in innovative ways and My Grandmother’s Lingo is a great example of this – combining interactive storytelling with digital technology to encourage further understanding of Indigenous languages amongst all Australians.”

NITV channel manager Tanya Denning-Orman said: “Digital technology is playing a vital role in the survival and revival of Indigenous languages, empowering communities to share their remarkable stories of preservation, whilst capturing languages for future generations.”

To complement the animation, SBS Learn has produced a schools education pack encouraging teachers and students to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. Aimed at years 7+, the pack feature classroom activities linked to the Media Arts curriculum and the newly released Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages. The resource is available online.

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