Meeting point: integrating Aboriginal and linguistics knowledge systems for description of contemporary revival languages in Australia


This project developed an integrated framework for understanding language revival in contemporary Australian Aboriginal communities. It produced recommendations for approaches that support language revival, accounting for the different forms of language which result and different pathways in the process. This addresses a long-standing gap between linguistic-theoretical models of language development and the experiences of language development in Indigenous communities.

The project integrated key knowledge from approaches including descriptive and historical linguistics and language contact situations, while maintaining particular focus on the meanings communities attribute to the processes and products of language revival.

This project was run by Tonya Stebbins from La Trobe University and Christina Eira from the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages.

National and Community Benefits

Past policies of assimilation have been extremely detrimental to the Aboriginal languages of many parts of Australia. As part of the process of healing from this past, many Aboriginal communities are moving to revive their languages. This research supported communities by developing an accessible and theoretically robust model of language revival which emerges from their own as well academic approaches to the subject. Practical outcomes included clearer, more extensive and rigorous information available to Aboriginal communities and the linguists who work with them, and recommendations for optimal pathways for language revival which respond to the priorities and directions of the communities concerned.