Translation Industry News | 19.08.2009

Australia allocates funding to the preservation of Aboriginal languages

It has recently been announced that the Australian government is to spend in the region of £4.74million in a bid to save many of its native languages, which are currently in danger of dying out.

Australia’s Arts Minister, Peter Garrett, said that the aim was to preserve more than 100 indigenous languages that are currently under threat. The money is earmarked for translation services as well as for a study to gauge how feasible it would be to develop a national centre for Aboriginal languages.

A 2005 study found that Australia had 145 indigenous languages with all but 20 at great risk of dying out. Many were spoken by only small groups of older people and it was found that only in more remote areas were children learning them. This meant that 90% of Australian native languages had no new young speakers.

Native Australians account for around two percent of the total population, so even the most widely spoken Aboriginal languages, such as Warlpiri and Tiwi, have only around 3,000 speakers.

Emphasising the importance of preserving these languages, Peter Garrett added that they were, “a significant part of Australia’s heritage and we must ensure they are protected for the benefit of future generations.”

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