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The survival of Australia’s endangered languages – an audio-photo essay by sound artist Jonathan Mustard and photojournalist Martine Perret February 4, 2017

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Metaphor Online, The Guardian , trackback

This post is shared from The Guardian newspaper and asks important questions about culture and language through Marine Perret’s photo essay.


Dinny Smith (pictured above left and heard singing) is a Panagka man, born with the traditional name Kuyayin in the desert region of Jameson (Mantamaru). His language is Ngaanyatjarra; Laurel Ngunu Cooper (pictured above and heard whispering) was taken away from her parents when she was five years old. She is part of the Stolen Generations; Deborah Cutter (top picture) is seen having fun after a long day hunting goannas and kangaroos in the bush around Wiluna, Western Australia. A baby kangaroo she rescued from the one of the hunted is hiding inside her shirt.

Photographer Martine Perret’s haunting images and audio recordings from Western Australia capture its landscape, people and native languages – some of them close to extinction. The work, titled Ngala Wongga (meaning Come Talk), has been  on show at Goldfields Arts Centre on 30 September for six weeks and will open in Perth on 8 February 2017. Within it she asks: ‘What is the future for Australian Indigenous languages?’

• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this photo essay may contain images and voices of people who have passed away. In publishing this essay, we wish to honour and celebrate their lives.

As a young child, Glenys Williams (pictured below) used to speak Putijarra language. She now speaks Mardu language. In 2004, there were estimated to be four speakers of the Putijarra language. It is a highly endangered language. ‘When I was young, I lived at Lorna Glen station, 150km north east of Wiluna,’ she says. ‘At that time, I did not learn how to get food from the bush by my parents. I feel I grew up as a ‘white’ person as I was never taught the traditional Aboriginal customs.’


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