Engaging with traditional language

One of Jabree’s underlying objectives is to continually strengthen our traditional owner community and to maintain the integrity of our culture and our language in contemporary society.

Sadly, we are seeing a growing number of examples where traditional Aboriginal language is misappropriated or translated poorly for media campaigns and broad communication purposes.

Yugambeh is the traditional language for many Aboriginal people and communities across the Gold Coast region, and across Australia’s south east more broadly, where there is evidence of variations in the dialect.

Often these variations and the breadth of meaning attached to a particular word are being lost in contemporary translation processes.

For instance, in Yugambeh language,  Jingreejingree is a word for Willy Wagtail. The Willy Wagtail can be recognised by Aboriginal people as a sign that good news will follow.  In this context, Jingreejingree has been used in contemporary settings as a welcome greeting.

However, the Willy Wagtail is also commonly recognised as a bad omen by local Aboriginal people, and a sign that death with follow. It is important that the breadth of meaning associated with Jingreejingree be understood for it to be used appropriately in contemporary settings.

Jabree encourages all Australians to engage with traditional language, but we also encourage them to engage with us to ensure the integrity and the future of our language is maintained.

This post has been prepared in consultation with members of the Gold Coast Traditional Owner community.

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