Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More Noongar language books

Four new children's books have been produced in Noongar language by Batchelor Press. These are traditional stories told by Jack Williams and Carol Petterson of Albany that have been told in Noongar and English by the authors. With the assistance of Denise Smith-Ali and a variety of family members the authors have used the current Noongar vocabulary and their own memories and idiosyncrasies to produce a new text. A similar process has been used by the Laves family translators although in the latter case the original story tellers have long since passed away.

This process which is occurring more and more these days is indicative of the way in which Noongar is being re-invigorated within the indigenous community. The language of the stories is discussed within families and a new generation of speakers and writers is evolving. It is only a matter of time before we start to see a new generation of texts in Noongar language.

Carol Petterson recalls that she was "beaten for telling the bobtail story in that 'filthy' Noongar language", an experience that was shared by all members of her generation. The "shame and distress" that she felt as a youngster is these days a strong motivation for her and others to revive the language.

Jack Williams' stories come from the Stirling Ranges and the real treasure in Jack's work is to be found in the accompanying CD where he sings a traditional Noongar song associated with his stories.

There is a renaissance of Noongar culture that is just starting to flower. The next few years will be exciting indeed.

Copies of the books are available from Batchelor Press email them at batchelorpressATbatchelorDOTeduDOTau

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