Digital Media adds grunt to Aboriginal language project

Microsoft UPdate Newsletter, December 2005

"Internationally, every two weeks at least one Indigenous Language disappears. Digitisation is the quickest way to get a record of a language and stop that trend... If our languages disappear everything about us disappears... the Aboriginal people of Australia are the oldest living race. We have the oldest religion, the oldest traditions, the oldest languages, and we are not going to let that go."

Microsoft community partner, Yarnteen has joined with Arwarbukarl Cultural Resource Association (ACRA) in developing digital technolgy training for ACRA's Aboriginal Language Project.

ACRA has been doing inspiring work in bringing the advantages of Microsoft's digital technology and UP program to Aboriginal Communities to aid in the preservation and dissemination of the countries 250+ languages. Over the last 18 months Daryn McKenny of Yarnteen and ACRA, has been putting the power of Microsoft Access to work in helping strengthen and save these languages. The ACRA project is focussed on preserving their local Arwarbukarl language as a living part of the Arwarbukarl community and to aid in strengthening Aboriginal identity. Aboriginal language preservation is not only Daryn's work, but his passion.

Of the some 250 native languages and 800 dialects spoken at the arrival of Europeans only about 80 dialects are still spoken today. Many of these are in danger of extinction aswell. Daryn, through the ACRA project, has developed a user friendly but powerful computer program to provide a language preservation and learning system. The aim was to find a way to record the language and empower Aboriginal language workers and learners to best utilise the latest digital technology.

Daryn's computer skills are self-taught and he has innovatively used the Microsoft Access program to develop the project. For the technically minded, ACRA has developed a computer software program based on the MS Access platform in a relational database environment. 'Aboriginal language workers have found the program extremely friendly to use, they have at hand the ability to access Digital Video, Audio and Textual information relating to each Aboriginal word recorded in the database. Linguistic analysis can be performed on the data to help unlock the secrets of language and then output data in all manner of formats to aid in producing multimedia learning CD's, dictionaries, books, etc.

According to Daryn, "None of this would have been possible without using Access and in addition its compatibility with other programs has been a major benefit."

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  • Friday, 02 December 2005