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A first for PNG village

endangered languages, minority languages, Shape

Date: 3 April 2017

This is a special story about a special project.

In 2015, CoEDL CI Rachel Nordlinger began working with Taemi speaker Gertrude Tamade Elai to teach linguistic field methods to a class at the University of Melbourne. 

As well as the academic outputs that they had to submit for their assessments, the students worked with Gertrude and Rachel to develop some materials in Taemi for Gertrude to take back to her village of Taemigidu in the Morobe province in Papua New Guinea. The materials included a dictionary and story book.

CoEDL helped with the production of the materials and only last month, Gertrude returned from her village having taken the books over there. It was an amazing trip, given that no one in the village had previously seen a book written in their own language.

People of all ages enjoy the books

Gertrude writes on her latest blog, “To the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language and everyone at The University of Melbourne, not only have you assisted my village document the Taemi language, you have brought reading into the classrooms with story-telling times and you have sparked curiosity in the eyes and minds of children and adults alike to read.”

Gertrude (left at back) with her family

Taemigidu is a small village of less than 5000 people. It is interesting in a linguistic sense because all the surrounding villages speak Yabem but Taemi is the language of Taemigidu.  Another thing that makes this project special, is that this is the first time Taemi has ever been documented.

Read Gertrude’s fascinating blog about her village here.

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University

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