Software to save our languages

Story by Britta Lyster, Koori Mail, 9th September 2009

Aboriginal languages throughout Australia have been given a much better chance at survival with the distributin of an award-winning computer program aimed at reviving traditional languages.

Miromaa, meaning 'saved' in the Local Awabakal Language of the Newcastle Hunter Region, has been a labour of love for the Arwarbukarl Cultural Resource Centre's Daryn McKenny in his efforts to preserve and disseminate traditional Aboriginal Languages.

A recent report found that of the 145 indigenous languages still spoken in Australia, 110 were at risk of disappearing unless drastic action was taken to preserve them.

Five years in the making, Miromaa has been developed by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people and is already being used nationally and internationally to support the preservation of more than 70 languages and dialects.

In May 2088, Miromaa received national recognition as the winner of the competitive 'Best Software In A Non-Profit Setting' catergory at the annual Connecting Up Conference in Sydney.

The program is part of a multi-pronged approach to the language preservation and follows the announcement last month by Environment, Heriatge and Arts Minister Peter Garrett that the Government would take a new approach to Indigenous language preservation.

Miromaa has full media capabilities, making it possible for the user to attach multiple sound, video and still images to each piece of language data recorded.
the program is easy to use and requires minimal set-up and training.

Mr McKenny says the idea for Miromaa came from the need to empower Aboriginal people the right tools to be directly involved with language maintenance instead of being on the sidelines.

"Already the program has lifted the IT skills of the Aboriginal people that use it and also provide employment oppurtunities," Mr McKenny said.

"But more impotantly, it has put them in to the middle of the day-to-day activities surrounding the revival of their language. Now, that's important."

"The program is unique and nothing like it can be found anywhere else in the world. Best of all, Miromaa is free to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people involved directly with language maintenance."

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  • Thursday, 10 September 2009