Our Languages Still Speak to Us: An Indigenous Linguistic Basis for Language Rebuilding and Restoration

Tuesday, 2 July 2019
Dr Raymond Kelly

Recently appointed to the role of Deputy Head for the Wollotuka Institute Dr Raymond Kelly has been actively involved in revitalising the Language in NSW for more than 10 years. Graduating with PhD from the UoN in 2016, today the primary focus for his ongoing research revolves around the deep analysis and cultural interpretation of the linguistic and cultural material captured during a number of crucial recordings made by researchers working with first language speakers from the mid north coast area in the mid-20th century.

The detail for his present linguistic hypothesis has been drawn from countless hours of listening and describing each sound and each sentence, including every question asked by the researcher and subsequent response given by the language holder. What was very interesting was the way in which some sentence structures would change by adding or subtracting a word or two.

Dr Kelly states that at some point early in the research period he began to hear a sound that he could not readily describe using a plain Standard English structure. He began experimenting on paper and by himself-replicating these sounds, particularly, at a speed closer to the language provider. What began to emerge for Dr Kelly was a new orthography.

He says that the computer technology available today can provide any language worker with the ability to stop - start and instantly review any portion of sound file. Additionally he indicates that by working patiently and systematically much of the current output in our language endeavour can be further enhanced and improved.
Dr Kelly calls self a cross over speaker – That is someone who grew up with first language speakers around him at a young age, during his presentation he will describe how many Gurri people have retained a healthy linguistic basis for language rebuilding and restoration