Aboriginal languages in Tasmania died out with their people but there has been an effort to reconstruct something approximating one or two of those languages in the from of “Palawa kani”, and it has largely been done by referring to notes that anthropologically curious Europeans left about words they heard in the 1800s.
Having lots of languages in the world is a wonderful thing, even if this one is rather artificial and done by a committee sort of thing, and it is even possible that Tasmanians who claim no Aboriginal ancestry might like to learn something of it, or use some of the words for certain purposes. Not so fast, says the federally funded Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC):
Any non-Aboriginal person, group or organisation wishing to use Aboriginal language for any purpose may submit their request by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to palawa kani Language Program, Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, PO Box 531 Launceston, Tasmania 7250.
At least a two week period should be allowed for responses. The application must state the purpose for which the language is to be used, by whom and the intended audience.
You need to give them two weeks, these things take time to judge the merits of.
Several categories of language can be shared with non-Aborigines on application as above. Words and simple phrases in several categories including but not limited to natural objects such as flora and fauna, features of the landscape and natural environment, actions, greetings are among those which can be shared
Presumably there are some secret and sacred words that cannot be shared with white people who are not also Aboriginal.
Applications are assessed on a case by case basis. Approval will depend on the context of the proposed use and its alignment with Aboriginal values and aspirations. Once the application has been assessed, applicants will be notified of the decision in writing.
They are no two dollar whores do you know, you’re going to have to make a good case, one that doesn’t involve any deviationism from correct Aboriginal norms.
All approvals for the use of palawa kani are conditional upon the users displaying with the approved words or phrases an acknowledgement with this wording:
“In palawa kani, the language of Tasmanian Aborigines”
and that the palawa kani language is not used in conjunction with inauthentic forms of the language.
They will have no inauthenticity besmirching the purity of their largely made up language.
You know a white person wrote all that, a very white person.
Languages can’t be copyrighted of course so it’s all moot, and while it is all rather jolly to read this stuff, this is not how you want people to relate to each other in real life – Tasmanians of any colour, whether they are Tasmanian Aboriginal white people or just garden variety Tasmanian white people, need not be so stand offish and self-important. People take all sorts of things way too seriously these days.
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