Linguistic and Cultural Factors that affect the documentation and maintenance of Australia's traditional languages

Jo CAFFERY, Mark Stafford Smith

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review


Over many years we have benefited from Luise Hercus’ insight, experience and generous sharing of her knowledge to enhance our own research. The three of us have often discussed the linguistic and cultural factors ingrained in language maintenance and documentation; often these discussions have led to treasured laughter due to our individual and personal experiences. However, the following discussion is based on research and analysis by the authors only, and any errors are ours.
This chapter outlines research exploring how the capacity of Indigenous Australians to document or maintain traditional Indigenous languages is enhanced or constrained by various local realities that are generally outside the control of the Indigenous researchers and usually deeply ingrained in the community (see also Gale, this volume). In particular, through discussion with Indigenous language researchers and other community members, it looks at the cultural and linguistic factors that affect language documentation and maintenance activities by Indigenous language researchers. It examines what these factors are through the eyes of Indigenous language researchers and Elders who were participants in our research project, which interviewed 98 Indigenous and non-Indigenous language researchers and Elders across northern Australia (northern Western Australia, Northern Territory and northern Queensland, including the Torres Strait Islands).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLanguage, Land and Song
Subtitle of host publicationstudies in honour of Luise A. Hercus
EditorsPeter Austin, Harold Koch, Jane Simpson
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherEL Publishing
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9781741313253
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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