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Kuninjku language lessons in Maningrida

08 March 2018

Story by Ingrid Johanson

Speakers of Kuninjku have begun teaching their language to people in the Maningrida community.
The lessons have been led by Kuninjku women Janet Marawarr and Deborah Wurrkidj, with support from other family members including Lennie Goya Airra, Jennifer Wurrkidj, Susan Marawarr and Helen Lanyinwanga. 
Lessons have been supported by the Bininj Kunwok Language Project and coordinated by Bábbarra Women's Centre. 
Lennie Goya Airra said, “It’s kamak (good) people want to learn our languages. Some people in Maningrida don’t speak English, so it’s good that balanda (non-indigenous) people working here try to learn our languages”.
The lessons, taking place at Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation tearoom, have been well-attended by staff from West Arnhem Regional Council, the Clinic, Bawinanga, and the school. The lessons take place every Tuesday afternoon and over 20 people have attended the classes. 
Kuninjku language is part of the Bininj Kunwok family of languages, and is closely related to Kunwinjku, Kundjeyhmi, Kune and Mayali.
Maningrida is a community with a high level of linguistic diversity, with around 12 languages being spoken in a community of around 2300 people.
The teachers have been pleased that people want to learn their language, and have been enjoying planning lessons around places, animal names and verbs. 
Deborah Wurrkidj said, “It was good that balanda can say our words now, like Murnubbarr (magpie goose), Kinga (crocodile), Duruk (dog) and all kinds.”