'Pictured Above - Mr Ollie George and Irra Wangga Linguist James Bednall'
To have your life-long culture and language valued and respected is something anyone would hope for. After 20 years, Mr Ollie George and Badimaya people can be proud that finally, their culture and language is being preserved and developed into multiple educational resources. Initial preservation work was commenced by The Yamaji Language Centre in the early 1990s before being transferred to the Bundiyarra – Irra Wangga Language Centre in 2005. Since 2012, more than 60 hours of audio and 10 hours of video recordings have been obtained and utilised to produce seven resources including five story books, a photographic calendar and picture book. This has helped assist with collaboration for the upcoming launch of the Badimaya Dictionary, Badimaya Guwaga wordlist and Alphabet Poster. Four Badimaya families - the George, Walsh, Fogerty and Clinche families - have provided the majority of the recordings with Mr George taking a lead role. Mr George is one of few remaining fluent Badimaya speakers and is pleased to see what has been developed from the work. Bundiyarra – Irra Wangga Language Centre Linguist James Bednall said that Mr George is really excited. “His face and eyes just light up when he sees the productions,” he said. “It is so dear to him to see his culture and language being preserved for the rest of the world to see, his language is just as important as any other language, he is a happy man.” The launch of the Badimaya Dictionary, Badimaya Guwaga wordlist and Alphabet Poster will take place on Mr George’s true country, Kirkalocka Station at Mount Magnet. Mr George was raised at Kirkalocka Station by his Nan and Pop. This is where he was immersed in his culture. He was able to learn and speak his language, was taught to hunt and took part in corroborees with family. Mr Bednall said: “When community see these publications it gives them a sense of pride. People see photos of themselves, their country and their language in print and it creates excitement as they feel respected and valued.” The Bundiyarra – Irra Wangga Language Centre and Badimaya Community invite you to join them at Kirkalocka Station on Thursday, 10 April, 2014 from 11.30am – 1.30pm for this historic launch. The launch is a free event and will include a good feed and some entertainment. Free, limited bus transport is available from Bundiyarra in Geraldton. For further enquiries please contact the The Bundiyarra – Irra Wangga Language Centre on (08) 9920 7900. Publications will be available for purchase at the launch and from the
Recently I caught up with two language specialists, James and Leonie.
They were both spending sometime in Mount Magnet along with a small film crew to capture some of the language and culture from Badimaya Aboriginal Elder, Ollie George.
Leonie Bodington is a Senior Language worker at Irra Wangga Language Centre.
"It's important for me, it's the language of my people. I think it's important to keep it alive as it identifies who you are. We're losing our speakers and what speakers we have we're loosing", says Leonie.
Leonie used to work in Mount Magnet regularly and over time got to know many of the local Aboriginal people in the area, including Badimaya Elder, Ollie.
James Bednall is a linguist also working at Irra Wangga Language Centre with Leonie.
"Ollie is one our last known Badimaya speakers that we know of, we don't know any others and if they are willing to work with us. Ollie's health is failing so we need to get as much information from him as possible and Ollie knows this," James says.
"All the work that we do we try and make it accessible to the public, however it's also up to the speakers that we work with and what they want done because it's their language and their information so we try and take direction from them.
We are currently working on a Badimaya dictionary and aim to have it out by the end of the year. Part of the process is to ask Ollie to double-check the entries to ensure the accuracy of the language.
With the filming project, we will take direction from Ollie but it will be a rich resource with lots of information both audibly and visually, which will be great to have available for the public."
The Badimaya language covers areas ranging from Paynes Find, Ninghan Station and Mount Magnet. James says there has been lots of movement with some Badimaya people who are also living in Geraldton and Meekatharra.
Leonie is a Wajarri person from the Murchison area of WA. Leonie says it's not that hard to learn other languages like Badimaya because she is part of the transcribing process and is always hearing it and writing it down.
She also states that spending time with elders like Ollie and hearing how they say the language also helps in picking it up and learning the language.
It's great to see languages like Badimaya being recorded digitally and kept for generations to come, contributing to a big picture that is Aboriginal culture in Australia.
IMAGE CREDITS: ABC Open Mid West WA
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