A matter of interpretation
Language planning for a sleeping language, Kaurna, the language of the Adelaide Plains, South Australia
Kaurna, the language indigenous to the Adelaide Plains in South Australia, is being reclaimed from nineteenth-century written historical sources. There are no sound recordings of the language as it was spoken in the nineteenth century, and little has been handed down orally to the present generation. Fortunately, the nineteenth-century records of the language are reasonably good for the time, having been recorded by Christian Teichelmann and Clamor Schürmann, German missionaries who were trained in philology and a range of languages including Hebrew, Greek, Latin and Chinese. The language was also recorded, in part, by a number of other English, German and French observers. The Kaurna language is now being revived: rebuilt, re-learnt and reintroduced on the basis of this nineteenth-century documentation. In this process, numerous problems of interpretation are being encountered. However, the tools that linguistics provides are being used to interpret the historical corpus. A range of concrete examples are analysed and discussed to illustrate the kinds of problems faced and the solutions adopted.
Published online: 06 September 2013