Spoken: celebrating Queensland languages

Spoken: celebrating Queensland languages


Language, it’s something many of us take for granted but can you imagine being the last person on the planet to know a language that has been spoken for thousands of years before you? Talk about a heavy burden! The latest exhibition at State Library of Queensland – Spoken: celebrating Queensland languages – is an emotional and thought-provoking journey into the survival and revival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.

Over 125 Queensland languages were once spoken, now, sadly, approximately only 50 of these remain spoken daily. Join the journey of six Queensland communities saving their traditional languages.

Spoken presents an alternative retelling of the prevailing colonial narrative – placing rare historical records alongside the inspiring work of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities who tell their own language stories through art, song and creativity. View Australia’s most significant historical document in a new light. James Cook’s Endeavour Journal holds the first 130 Aboriginal words ever recorded by Europeans in the Guugu Yimithirr language but hear the Guugu Yimithirr perspective of those interactions with the foreign explorers.

Rediscover Queensland languages lost and reawakened by the strength of culture, identity and connection to Country. Featuring the exciting work of communities reviving and thriving in language: Wik (Aurukun), Guugu Yimithirr (Hope Vale), Yuwibara (Mackay), Yugambeh (South East Queensland), Kala Lagaw Ya & Miriam Mir (Torres Strait Islands) and Kuungkari, Bidjara, Iningai, Wangkangurru and Yarluyandi (Central West Queensland region). State Library celebrates the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

Spoken is on display at State Library of Queensland until April 2020 and is free to attend. If you see one exhibition this year, make it this one.

James Cook’s Endeavour Journal is on loan from National Library of Australia until 10 March 2020. 

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