Revivalist book incorporates Barngarla language efforts

BOOK: Ghil'ad Zuckermann looks over his book 'Revivalistics' at Sleaford, which features on the book's cover. Photo: supplied
BOOK: Ghil'ad Zuckermann looks over his book 'Revivalistics' at Sleaford, which features on the book's cover. Photo: supplied

A leading expert in language revival has launched a book worldwide about the multifaceted elements of language revival, which includes the journey of assisting the Barngarla people in their own efforts.

Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann, chairperson of Linguistics and Endangered Languages at the University of Adelaide, has written the book 'Revivalistics: From the Genesis of Israeli to Language Reclamation in Australia and Beyond', published by Oxford University Press.

The book introduces readers to the field of revivalistics, a trans-disciplinary field of enquiry involving language reclamation, revitalisation and reinvigoration.

Half of the book examines the efforts to revive and Hebrew language from the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the second half applies the lessons from this revival to similar movements in Australia and abroad.

This includes a focus on the efforts on the Eyre Peninsula to reclaim the Barngarla language.

While he could not hold an official launch in Port Lincoln, Professor Zuckermann did visit Port Lincoln in the past week and is providing free copies of his book to interested members of the Barngarla community.

VISIT: Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann provided copies of his book to Lavinia, Jenna, Vera and Emma Richards during his visit to Port Lincoln.

VISIT: Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann provided copies of his book to Lavinia, Jenna, Vera and Emma Richards during his visit to Port Lincoln.

Professor Zuckermann said the most important thing to him was to give back to the Barngarla community, not just with the books but by providing their insights to the global community.

He said there was the hope it could lead to people interested in language revival to further understand the field of study.

"I hope the book will inspire some of the Barngarla people to become revivalists themselves," he said.

"(The book) is more like an introduction to the entire field of language revival...anybody who is interested in reviving a specific language needs to understand the global field of revivalistics."

Local Barngarla woman Jenna Richards received one of the copies of the book and said it was great to see people would learn about the Barngarla language revival and the lessons that could be learned from it.

"It's good to see that we're getting exposure internationally and putting our story out there for people to see," she said.

"We're still on this journey of learning our language but we're thankful for everything Ghil'ad has done for us."

Local historian Gil Robertson has also got a hold of a copy and had seen for himself the impact Professor Zuckermann had in the language reclamation efforts.

He said the importance of language in culture could not be overlooked.

"This will become a book which will be referred to for many years to come and in places we can't begin to imagine," he said.

"Barngarla is probably a more complete language than English, German, Latin and French put together.

"It's so complex and only when someone like Ghil'ad examines it that it becomes apparent."

Among the acknowledgements in the book Professor Zuckermann acknowledged the late Howard Richards, who he said was the first Barngarla person to invite him to the Eyre Peninsula.

This story Revivalist lessons from Barngarla journey first appeared on Port Lincoln Times.

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