Classroom

SPELLING SYSTEM OF THE LOCAL 3 ENDANGERED LANGUAGES IN THE CEDUNA REGION

We all know that there have been many people who have recorded written words for our Indigenous Languages within the region many years ago, and we greatly appreciate the work that they have done. However, on consultation with local Indigenous people many years ago about the spelling system of the local 3 endangered languages (Wirangu, Mirning & Gugada/Kokatha) it was decided to separate our spelling from other languages within the region. Below is an outline of the consonants we use for these languages within the Far West Languages Centre and of course we all know our languages were never written but we hope that these languages are spoken correctly, more so.

  • English Alphabet has: 26 Individual letters and 5 Vowels
  • Far West Alphabet has: 12 Individual letters, 9 Double letters, 3 Short Vowels and 3 Long Vowels

Basic Alphabets of the 3 local Languages

  • The basic Mirning Alphabet is:
    a b d dh dy g i l lh ly m n ng nh ny r rd rn rl rr u w y
  • The basic Wirangu Alphabet is:
    a b d dh dy g i l lh ly m n ng nh ny r rd rn rl R u w y
  • The basic Gugada/Kokatha Alphabet is:
    a b d dh dy g i l ly m n ng ny r rd rn rl rr u w y

As a final point on the spelling system, it is important to note the n.g (in.garn “plays”) is pronounced as two separate sounds as in “stun-gun” in English.

Example of separating the spelling system from Pitjantjatjara in our local language are the uses of “g” not a “k” and “tj” is a “dy

You will see that Vowels, Consonants and Alphabet are either the same or similar as below:

Vowels of all 3 languages:
Short Vowel Sounds
a – like the u in English cut, hut (gagarra, bamba & Maru)
i – like the i in English sit, hit (winaga, minga & iridi)
u – like the u in English put (guma, buyu)

Long Vowel Sounds
a – like English father, car (ma, nyaa)
i – like the ee in English feel (mil, bii)
u – like the oo in English cool, school (buuna, yu, yuu)
Sometimes you will come across aa in some of the languages caused by the addition of an affix being added to a final vowel.

Consonants:
b – is like English bad, crab and can sometimes sound like p
d – is like English dog, glad and can sometimes sound like t
dh – is like (d) with the tip of the tongue between the teeth and it can sometimes sound like “th” in this, that and these two letters stand for one sound
dy – is like (j) in jar, judge and can sometimes sound like “ch” in church and these two letters stand for one sound
g – is like English goat, fog and can sometimes sound like “k
l – is like English little, cold
lh – is like (l) with the tip of the tongue between the teeth and it can sometimes sound like “ly
ly – is like the middle sound in “million” and these two letters stand for one sound
m – is like English more, slim
n – is like English nest, pin
ng – is like English endings of sing, thing and these two letters stand for one sound
nh – is like (n) with the tip of the tongue sticking out a little between the teeth and these two letters stand for one sound
ny – is like English onion, canyon and these two letters stand for one sound. NEVER like pony.
r – is like English real, very and the sound is made by drawing the tongue tip back in the mouth
rd – is like (d) with the tongue tip curled back in the mouth and these two letters stand for one sound
rl – is like (l) with the tongue tip curled back in the mouth and these two letters stand for one sound
rn – is like (n) with the tongue tip curled back in the mouth and these two letters stand for one sound
rr – is like English butter, letter if spoken fast and these two letters stand for one sound
R – is like (r) sound is made with the tongue tip curled back in the mouth and these two letters stand for one sound
w – is like English will, away
y – is like English you, yard

 

Working in the FWLC we prefer to not work in a typical classroom setting but out on country with both Elderly and Young teaching and learning in a natural environment as this is an integral part of language revitalisation and maintaining the endangered languages. FWLC works closely with the Indigenous Elders, Community, Youth to build the fluency of the languages but also working towards the Indigenous to deliver the languages within schools and other agencies/organisations to:

  • Strengthen the endangered languages so they are fluently spoken and out of danger;
  • Develop strategic pathways to run language camps or day trips in each language;
  • Oral history archiving and recording;
  • Developing self-determination and confidence within the speakers to teach the language;
  • Building and improving on resources materials for all 3 languages;

To find out more about how FWLC works contact us on (08) 8625 3785 or 0437 686 539 or email us.

Projects

The FWLC assists in revitalisation and restoration of the local endangered languages in the Ceduna and surrounding areas.. The aim is to encourage engagement and increase understanding of West Coast Languages.



About FWLC

The FWLC is a language centre established by the Ceduna Aboriginal Corporation with the intention to revive and restore endangered languages within the regiona and to provide language resources and services for the Wirangu, Mirning and Gugada languages.

To find out more about the FWLC drop into the Far West Languages Centre situated inside the Ceduna Arts Centre at 2 Eyre Highway or call us on (08) 8625 3785.