Muurrbay was recently visited by a group of students of anthropology, linguistics and social work from Sydney University. Lecturers John Hobson and Susan Poetsch organised the fieldwork excursion for the unit: Re-awakening Australian Languages. This unit examines how Indigenous communities are resisting the Australian trend towards monolingualism by reviving their languages. The students also visited several Gumbaynggirr language classes in preschools, primary schools and high schools in the Nambucca Valley.
CEO Gary Williams described the history of Muurrbay and how it has grown from a small group of Elders meeting to save their language, into a regional language centre, Registered Training Organisation and publisher of Aboriginal language texts. Students heard how Muurrbay has focussed on archival research and language documentation leading to the publishing of dictionary grammars in six languages and more recently, developing Certified courses and learning resources for adults.
Senior language researcher Dallas Walker and linguist Steve Morelli described recent research on the Gumbaynggirr Yuludarla or Story collection, which has lead to some important discoveries about different dialects and speaking styles as well as a previously undescribed grammatical feature. It was only the day before that they had discovered this new feature, a suffix meaning ‘evidently’, and the excitement of this ongoing research was plain to see. The highlight of the day was when Dallas lead the group in singing some Gumbaynggirr songs: Yuludarla muuganga bindarray (Yuludarla made this land) and Nganyundi baaliga Gumbaynggirr (My father is Gumbaynggirr).