The Kungarakan language was considered an extinct Indigenous language, however, through the commitment and passion of Kungarakan people and others, Ngun Kungarakany is rising out of the ashes and well on its way to be recognised as a Pheonix language. Revived and ready to be spoken in its full glory.
“Aborigines identify themselves by the language they speak and this gives them certain dignity and significance as a special group of people.
As for us, it settles the matter of who we are, then we should move on to what we can do in the future”.
In the 1970s Ida Koormundum Bishop started documenting and researching the Kungarakan language in a promise to her mother, Margaret Poordjetpudjen Edwards. In 2000, Koormundum was able to self-publish her Ngun Koongurrukun: Speak Koongurrukun Lexicon, a result of her work culminating over 30 years. This enormous work is also Koorundum’s Ngirrwut, the transference of her knowledge, faithfully to all to be understood from its own cultural basis, and the very essence of Koongurrukun identity. During this time, various other people worked individually on some of the language, however, it was not centralised therefore making it inaccessible to others. Koormundum’s published book Ngun Kungarakan awakened and made the language tangible for those to keep pursuing the dream of reviving this ancient and complex language.
The language revival commenced in earnest in 2018, with the assistance of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) approved funding for the Living and Breathing Kungarakan project which was in partnership with Batchelor Institute Indigenous Tertiary Education, Language Centre. This grant was a direct result of Helen Jowunga Bishop’s PhD endeavours.
The Living and Breathing Kungarakan project was officially launched at the 2018 Western and Northern Aboriginal Alliance (WANALA) forum held in Batchelor and Wadeye (NT). The theme for the WANALA forum was ‘The Language of Art & The Art of Language’.
The Kungarakanj language resources are due to be released soon, but, here is a taste of what is to come. Arrakany tjaput wudjarmem