While we have hundreds of Awabakal words and their cultural meanings digitally uploaded and categorised, there is still more work to be done.
Our Awabakal language experts are focused on the task of ensuring language accuracy and to record as much of the Awabakal language digitally as possible - so it is safe and can be accessed easily, where culturally appropriate. Naturally, we use the Miromaa software platform to store and access this beautiful language. Much of the hard work was done in the nineteenth century by two unlikely friends: Awabakal leader Birabaan and missionary Threlkeld.
WHY AWABAKAL LANGUAGE RESEARCH HAS BEEN SO CHALLENGING
Newcastle and Sydney were the first settlement areas. Therefore the Aboriginal langauges were the first to be negatively impacted and speakers lost. This means we have a greater challenge compared to many other Aboriginal languages in our language research and revitalisation.
1830s - Awabakal was first recorded language in Australia...
....at the same time as the Darug language of the Eora people by William Dawes in Sydney. The source is raw. There are no speakers or recordings of speakers (that we know of). This presents different challenges in language conservation to other Aboriginal communities - including dealing with two different styles of English. Thelkeld's documentation - our key source from the 1880s - is old English, which we also need to make sense of in our language work.
1890s - Approximately five more Aboriginal languages...
...were documented in Australia.
1900s - Other languages documented
245 Aboriginal languages were documented at this time.