Last Friday 3 August at Maclean TAFE, the Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Co-operative launched a Yaygirr Dictionary and Grammar. Muurrbay was founded in 1986 when Gumbaynggirr Elders got together to revive their language and hand it down. Muurrbay means ‘white fig tree’ in the Gumbaynggirr language. Muurrbay aims to support Aboriginal people, particularly Gumbaynggirr, in the revival and maintenance of their language and culture, and so strengthen their sense of identity, self esteem and links to country. Further comments follow the photo.
For those who have no idea what Yaygirr is, it is the language spoken by the Aborigines who occupied territory around the mouth of the Clarence.It is a Gumbaynggirric language.
Now there is a link here with two recent posts, Belshaw’s World – New England’s Blaxland’s Flat girl dies just eight hundred years ago and Blaxland Flat's girl and the remarkable contribution of Isabel McBryde. In those posts I drew from, focused on, Isabel's work. Now I want to mention Bill Hoddinott, someone I spoke of back in December 2006 in William G (Bill) Hoddinott & New England Aboriginal Languages.
Bill came to the University of New England in 1960, the same year as Isabel. There he began to record details of New England's Aboriginal languages. Bill died suddenly and sadly in 1984. Now, twenty eight years later, his work forms one element in the launch of a new part of the Aboriginal language revitalisation movement.
Isabel gave us, among other things, Blaxland Flat's girl. Bill, among other things, helped give us a Yaygirr dictionary and grammar. That's not bad.
Now when I myself write all those many years after I first became involved with Isabel's work in 1963 as a young student, I think of the tradition that I am trying to carry on. That's not bad. Just looking at the purely personal, I think of the Yaygirr woman who did not know the dictionary was being launched until I told her. Again, that's not bad.
On a purely objective basis, I doubt that my work on New England can ever measure up to Isabel or Bill. Still, I carry the touch. That's not bad either.