Joining the dots

The British first came to the coastline of Arnhem land, in the northern territory of Australia, in the beginning of the 19th century.

They discovered summer shelters of the aboriginal people, which were temporary, built with sheets of bark and illustrations on the inside. These illustrations attracted the British and they stole these when the community was not around. Interest grew about these artworks in England by the museums when the colonisers took the art back.

After some 226 years of racism and marginalisation against indigenous people, their art and culture are finally at the forefront of Australian identity. The art “is tens of thousands of years old but also contemporary,” says Cubillo.

Read More

Is Russia worthy of hosting the World Cup?

With the FIFA World Cup just days away, I have been chatting with people on my travels through central and northern Europe to gauge their opinions about Russia being the host.

Several people have simply sighed, resigned to the fact that nefarious FIFA politics won the day. One Prague taxi driver, remembering the Soviet-led invasion of his country in 1968, hated the idea, but another Czech shrugged and said that most people, especially those too young to remember Communist rule, would just focus on the football.

War of words: why journalists need to understand grammar to write accurately about violence

The recent killing of unarmed Palestinians by Israeli forces has sparked not only a reasonable outcry, but commentary on the language journalists use to report these events.
For instance, writer and English professor Moustafa Bayoumi, of City University of New York, wrote:

It is the peculiar fate of oppressed people everywhere that when they are killed, they are killed twice: first by bullet or bomb, and next by the language used to describe their deaths.

Anzac Day is also about the right to democratic dissent and those who fought for it

In response to foiled plans for a terrorist attack at an Anzac Day commemoration service, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that interfering with such an event is “utterly alien to Australians”.

But Abbott is wrong. While any attack resulting in deaths would be reprehensible, and quite different to interruptions to services in the past, interfering with an Anzac Day service has been a very Australian way of drawing public attention to an issue.

Clarrie Combo, Mrs Brown and Aboriginal soldiers in WW2

During the second world war, a young Aboriginal soldier, Private Clarrie Combo from New South Wales, exchanged mail with Mrs F. C. Brown from Loxton, South Australia — a white woman whom he had never met. Very few letters penned by Aboriginal soldiers who served in either of the two world wars survive, yet one of Clarrie’s letters has endured in what might seem a surprising context.

Women have been neglected by the Anzac tradition, and it’s time that changed

The Anzac legend remains firmly centred on the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign of 1915, and the sacrifice of “sons and fathers” in frontline combat. The place of women in this foundational story is also made clear – that of onlookers and supporters.

This is a story of hope, and of an ongoing fascination with and idealisation of the “digger”. It is also a story about the passive role of women as waiting mothers, wives and sisters. But women’s contributions are more complicated, varied and controversial than these stories allow.

Barracking, sheilas and shouts: how the Irish influenced Australian English

Australian English decidedly finds its origins in British English. But when it comes to chasing down Irish influence, there are – to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld – some knowun knowuns, some unknowun knowuns, and a bucket load of furphies. The first Irish settlers, around half of whom were reputedly Irish language speakers, were viewed with suspicion and derision. This is reflected in the early Australian English words used to describe those who came from Patland (a blend of Paddy and Land).

Garma 2013

Yolŋu Sign Language: An Undocumented Language of Arnhem Land

by Elaine Maypilama & Dany Adone

Recently there has been an increase in studies documenting the world’s languages. Most of these studies concentrate on spoken languages but there is a growing effort to document sign languages. In this short paper we describe one of the many undocumented sign languages of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory of Australia. This Indigenous sign language is known locally as Yolŋu Sign Language (YSL). Although this language is used in daily interaction, many of its users are not aware that it is a language per se. With this brief description of YSL we hope to make our readers aware of the existence of this language. Another aim of this paper is to generate some general discussion on the status of Indigenous sign languages in Arnhem Land, which we believe have become endangered. Although YSL is an endangered language there are still measures that can be taken to prevent this language disappearing.

Domestic Violence Conference Coming to Yirrkala

Traditional Owners on the Gove Peninsula are at the forefront of the campaign to end domestic violence. The Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation, in partnership with the Northern Territory Police, held the first Indigenous Family Violence Policing Conference in Alice Springs in June last year.

During the closing of the event, the Rirratjingu invited the 2018 conference to be held in the Rirratjingu heartland – the remote community of Yirrkala in North-east Arnhem Land. The invitation was accepted.

For more on this and other articles on Rirratjingu in the January edition of Territory Q, click below and turn to page 62.

Territory Q