A link here [thanks to Simon Musgrave!] to international linguistic opinion on Mal Brough’s and John Howard’s poorly informed English-only push. Here’s Geoff Pullum at Language Log today, Punishing speakers of Aboriginal languages:
Plenty could be done to improve the lot of aborigines in Australia without doing anything to insist on their learning English (which is probably going to happen anyway, along with the extinction of the aboriginal languages). Australia has a lot to atone for. Such atonement will probably not occur.
The Australian Greens are better informed than the Government about the language loss that’s happening:
A remarkable living heritage of first Australian languages must be saved through federal government funding and action, Greens Leader Bob Brown said today.
‘Of more than 250 Indigenous languages in 1788, as few as 60 remain alive and in use as a first tongue. All the surviving languages – even those spoken by communities, are endangered. More languages are being lost every year,’ Senator Brown said.
The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies warns that there is a risk the 15 strong languages left will all die out in the second half of this century.
‘The Howard government’s neglect of this national heritage parallels the push to extinction of Gaelic languages in Britain and Ireland in past centuries. Now there are great resources put to recovering the languages and increasing the number of people who speak them. The contrast with the neglect and even disdain of original Australian languages by the federal government is chilling,’ Senator Brown said.