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ANU-CoEDL ZOOM Seminar: (Mis-)recognising Indigenous contact language ecologies in Australia, Denise Angelo, 11 Dec

Australian National University, Shape

Date: 8 December 2020

Seminar: (Mis-)recognising Indigenous contact language ecologies in Australia

Speaker: Denise Angelo

When: 11 Dec 2020, 3pm (AEDT)

Where: via zoom (please email for zoom link invitation)


Shifts in language use amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have occurred on a massive scale across much of the Australian continent in over two centuries of language contact. As a result, the contemporary vernaculars spoken amongst many Indigenous languages communities have been generated by language contact processes. Recognition of such contact languages (‘newer’ Indigenous languages) and their place in a local language ecology is a prerequsite for understanding mismatches in language policy settings and services, such as education.   

This presentation focuses on two main developments for recognising these contact languages. The first is the application of the holistic concept of a language ecology to the language needs and aspirations of communities who speak contact languages. A trajectory towards recognition necessarily involves clarifying a state of misrecognition, such as when a newer Indigenous contact language is incorrectly considered as just a (slightly) different version of one of its source languages. As a language ecology perspective invokes the presence of multiple languages which are used in various roles and to different extents, it can assist to reveal which languages are used in a given locality and their overall configuration.   

The second development involves the positioning of the domains of community, education, policy and linguistics with respect to each other. The situated and grounded experiences of speakers and teachers, the operational and accountabilty requirements on teachers and policy makers and the specialised concepts and methodologies of linguistics (broadly conceived) can be mutually informing. The questions and insights generated from each domain illuminates (mis-)recognition from different angles, highlighting knowledge gaps and useful concepts and prompting efforts into new areas. This mutually informing research model of knowledge generation with real-world application with and for Indigenous community members is timely given current engagement with Indigenous co-designed research.     

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