Language classes a must before Garma Festival

Yolŋu Studies lecturer Brenda Muthamuluwuy says it is important to have an understanding of language and culture when visiting Indigenous communities. Picture: CDU.
Yolŋu Studies lecturer Brenda Muthamuluwuy says it is important to have an understanding of language and culture when visiting Indigenous communities. Picture: CDU.

Those attending the Garma Festival in Gulkula, north-east Arnhem Land this year now have the opportunity to undertake workshops in language and culture to enhance their experience and learning.

Charles Darwin University’s College of Indigenous Futures, Arts and Society, with the Australian Indigenous Language Institute, will hold two short intensive Yolŋu language and culture courses in July in advance of the festival.

Yolŋu Studies lecturer Brenda Muthamuluwuy said it was important to have an understanding of language and culture when visiting Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory.

“Like all communities, communication is central to Indigenous communities,” she said.

Ms Muthamuluwuy is a Birrkili Gupapuyŋu woman from Galiwin'ku in north-east Arnhem Land and said that learning Yolŋu was a little different to what people might expect.

“Understanding the kinship beliefs of Yolŋu is vital to learning the language,” Ms Muthamuluwuy said.

“During the workshops students will learn about kinship, law and culture, vocabulary and pronunciation,” she said. “I am really proud to be able to share my language and hear the students speaking Yolŋu. It really opens the door to many opportunities to improve communication.”

Linguist Cathy Bow said the workshops to be held in Darwin were available to anyone who wanted to become more familiar with Yolŋu language and culture.

“Whether you wish to learn more about Yolŋu speaking people in your workplace or want to prepare yourself to get the most out of your Garma experience, the workshops are an opportunity to become familiar with the language and culture of one of Australia's first nations people,” Ms Bow said.

The four-day intensive language learning workshop “Yolŋu Mala Waŋgany: Yolŋu are One” will run from 23-26 July from 9am to 1pm. It will allow participants to familiarise themselves with Gurrutu kinship systems, basic grammar, useful phrases, pronunciation, spelling and everyday vocabulary of the Yolŋu language.

The one-day workshop “Yol Yolŋu? Who are Yolŋu?: Introduction to Yolŋu language and culture” will be held on 31 July from 9am to 4pm.

For more information contact the workshop convenor on T: (08) 8946 6278 or E: yolngustudies@cdu.edu.au or visit W: www.cdu.edu.au/sikpp/aili-garma 

Ms Muthamuluwuy is working for Yolŋu Studies under the guidance and permission of Yolŋu languages and cultural authorities from north-east Arnhem Land.

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