2020 Semester 2

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20 replies
  1. Andrea-P
    Andrea-P says:

    My name is Andrea and I recently spent a year immersed in a Community where Kunwinjku was the predominant language. I am excited to be able to take this course as a cross-institutional Grad Dip subject.
    I already have a skin name. My skin name is Ngalkangila and I love the way the skin system works and have found it really helps with connecting to people in the community. I find that people connect with me through skin rather than by name, even when I see Community people in Darwin.
    After looking through the first Unit I am reminded of how fascinating this language is and am looking forward to improving my vocabulary and confidence with the rules, particularly around plural forms. I am also pleasantly surprised by how much language I already recognise.

    • Colin Barker
      Colin Barker says:

      That sounds really interesting, which community were you based at? Can you already speak some Bininj Kuwok? For me the pronunciation appears to be quite hard at first. even with me having a background in learning foreign languages.

  2. Colin Barker
    Colin Barker says:

    My are of interest is languages, and this is the first time I have had the opportunity to engage with indigenous languages. Previously I have focused on Asian and European languages, but this the first time I can explore an Australian indigenous language. In the first topic I found it interesting learning about kinship and how the skin name is important to one’s identity in the community. I am amazed at how many local indigenous languages there are, I am sure that this course will prove to be interesting and thought provoking.

    • Andrea-P
      Andrea-P says:

      Hi Colin
      I am also very interested in languages. I speak a few (badly) but can read and understand a few languages and generally understand other people but not necessarily answer questions. I speak a little Kunwinjku and have been immersed in Gunbalanya with locals. It is much easier to get the pronunciation when everyone is speaking the language around you. I have found that it is especially helpful in understanding connections through the skin system. The conjugation of verbs is a bit more complicated than the Latin based languages (for me anyway).

      Do you mix up your languages? I automatically revert to the previously learned language when I don’t know a word. I am fascinated that I do this rather than using the English word and I am interested in whether other people do this.

      • Zenobia-J
        Zenobia-J says:

        I speak four languages (mostly badly!), but when I don’t know a word it completely depends on the context as to what language I revert to. If it is to do with my professional life, then it is almost always English (my 2nd language) as I don’t really have vocabulary for my type of work in other languages. When it is about nature and family, it is always back to the mother tongue. It can sometimes be a complete mess, especially for those around me that sometimes get bombarded with words in languages that they no nothing about! I find it fascinating how the brain copes with it all.
        I do find that having learnt other languages (most African) that pronunciation seems a little easier, but grammar is never easy!

  3. Greg-P
    Greg-P says:

    Hi, my name is Greg. I have been living in Gunbalanya for the last year, working in health. Wherever I am I always like to learn something of the local language. It shows respect for their culture, and really helps with getting to know people and their traditions. Languages don’t come easily for me but I’m up for the challenge!

    • Emily-B
      Emily-B says:

      Hey Greg, I also lived in Gunbalanya 2.5 years ago. I was on the cattle station for a few months. I think its great that you are learning the language to build a relationships with the people.

  4. Anna-F
    Anna-F says:

    Hi! My name is Anna. I am an archaeologist and I just finished my PhD working on the use of plant foods in the past at an archaeological site near Jabiru (Madjedbebe). As part of my PhD I worked with Mirarr elders to collect plants and learnt a bit of Kunwinjku through this. I am very excited to have the opportunity to learn some more. But, I can see that the different affixes use in Kunwinjku are going to be a challenge.

  5. Cat-K
    Cat-K says:

    I am Burungu of the Punjima Nation, so not sure what in Kunwinjku. Panaka in the desert languages I think
    I got this skin from my work in WA Pilbara My totem given at birth was the Currawong, a good song bird. I come from the salt water country, northern NSW, southern Queensland, Yugambeh/Bundjalng, and Celtic (Welsh, Irish and Scottish) ancestry. I lived mostly in Dharug Country, Sydney.
    recently moved back up north and looking forward to talking about the country up here

    • Emily-B
      Emily-B says:

      Hi, its great that we get the opportunity to learn about other countries.
      I am currently living in Wiradjuri country,
      and my ancestry in also Scottish and Irish as well as English.

  6. Emily-B
    Emily-B says:

    Hi Everyone,
    I am currently working in a preschool in NSW but have lived in Gunbalanya for some time a few years ago and have some connections there still. Last year I visited one friend and was invited to a fire camp near Maningrida, while I was there I formed life long friendships with some women rangers who were teaching me Kune language, I still practise these words and have already seen many similarities in this course.
    I chose to enrol in this unit because I am passionate about teaching children respect for all First Nation cultures. I also hope I can return to Arnhem Land and have a better understanding of the cultures that are present.
    I have many relationships across Australia with first action people and have been given a skin name by the ladies in Arnhem Land, they gave me this name which made me the mother to one, sister to another and daughter to another. I will forever cherish this as well as my other friendships.

    • Emily-B
      Emily-B says:

      And something I have learnt more about is the similarities between Kune and Kunwinjku. I remember the women told me that if you can understand kune you will be able to get by in a conversation with someone who speaks the surrounding languages.

  7. Kellie-D
    Kellie-D says:

    My name is Kellie and I am lucky enough to be living in Gunbalanya as a Nurse/Midwife. Though I have picked up a few words from being here the last 6 months, I wanted to do this course to show my respect to my Bininj patients and friends. My aim is to be able to converse more effectively with my patients to ensure greater health outcomes.

    • Zenobia-J
      Zenobia-J says:

      Wow Kellie, you are so privileged to live in Gunbalanya and do such important work as a nurse and midwife. You have so much opportunity to practice Bininj Kunwok with your friends and patients. One thing that I learnt on my few visits to Arnhem Land is that they are the most sharing of people and love teaching you about language and family.

  8. WilheminaO
    WilheminaO says:


    My name is Wilhemina, I am a first year student and I am taking this course as part of my major of Languages and Linguistics in Bachelor of Arts. I don’t have much connection with the community or the language however, my mother works with some of the people of Gunbalanya and one of my aunties works and lives out there.

    The kinship system is new to me because I was never taught much about growing up as well as spelling and reading in indigenous languages. Growing up my cousins and I were taught through listening so, these areas have been a bit difficult.

    • Kellie-D
      Kellie-D says:

      The Kinship system is so fascinating! I hope you enjoy learning about it. I love when my patients tell me about their families and how they are all related.

  9. Shay-J
    Shay-J says:

    Nugdda kamak

    I am living on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. Prior to here I was living in Darwin, Larrakia country. Being in Victoria after NT, realised how unaware the general population is about the issues Aboriginal people face everyday, unless it makes mainstream media. I have been guilty of this myself, advocating and trying to fight something I really don’t understand the depths of. I can appreciate that ‘closing the gap’ can be a really irrelevant way of looking at human capacity and that a deeper more meaningful and powerful way can be through learning an original Australian Language. The power shift of becoming a student is such a poignant thing we can do to learn, listen and observe, placing Aboriginal people as teachers. I wish to return to the territory one day and continue to be a student and learn about culture and worldviews of our First Nations Australian people.

    Thank you
    Mah Bonj

  10. Zenobia-J
    Zenobia-J says:

    My name is Zenobia and I am working together on research projects with Bininj in Arnhem Land on their beautiful Country. I have had the opportunity to visit a few times and I realised that to get most out of my experience and collaboration, it is really important to learn some of the language. This is really important for building respect and trust. I first enrolled in the short course and completely fell in love with learning the language and learning more about culture. I am a bit of a slow learner, so decided to enroll in this semester course to keep learning and improving. Like in any language, I feel that practice makes perfect. This week, it was good to hear the 8 skin names pronounced again by Ngalwakadj Jill, and be reminded of the basic skin structure.

  11. Mia-D
    Mia-D says:

    Hi my name is Mia and I work in western Arnhem Land on and off. I have spent alot of time in Jawoyn Country, working mostly with the Barunga community, where I was given the skin name Kalidjan (corresponds to ngalbulanj in Kunwinjku). I did this course because I have picked up on individual words during my time working with Bininj people but would like to be able to string some sentences together. While communicating in English is fine, I think I will get more out of my interactions and learn more, if I can understand (and write) more of the language. Being fly in fly out, I also think that by learning more language my interactions will be more meaningful and I will seem like less of a ‘stranger’ every time I return.

    What surprised (and saddened) me the most so far in the course was that Indigenous languages are being lost on a substantial scale (and have been already). I guess I knew this before but the knowledge had much more of an impact on me when the numbers were presented as they were. I was also surprised by the LAAL collection, which I think is a fantastic initiative and one I have already discussed with friends.

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