As part of State Library’s commitment to the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages, we will be promoting a ‘word of the week’ from one of the 125+ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and dialects from across Queensland.
State Library’s ‘word of the week’ for Week Twenty-Six is bi akarida [pronounced be arka-reeda], from the Meriam Mir language of Eastern Torres Straits. It refers to the Coming of the Light coincides with this event and accompanying festival which is celebrated annually on 1 July. The video below was commissioned by the State Library of Queensland for the Islands exhibition and provides an overview of the Coming of the Light.
The ‘Coming of the Light’ marks the day the London Missionary Society first arrived in Torres Strait. The missionaries landed at Erub (Darnley Island) on 1 July 1871, introducing Christianity to the region. This is a significant day for Torres Strait Islanders, who are predominantly of Christian faith.
Meriam Mir (also written as Miriam Mer) is the Language of the Eastern Islands of the Torres Strait. Linguistically, it is connected to the Papuan languages of the Austronesian family of languages. There are two regional dialects:
- Mer dialect – Mer (Murray), Waier, Dauar.
- Erub dialect – Erub (Darnley) and Ugar (Stephen).
The Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) is supporting language revival across the Torres Strait region and has established the Torres Strait Traditional Languages Centre to coordinate regional and community-specific efforts to retrieve, record and research traditional languages.
State Library of Queensland invites you to celebrate the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages as we raise awareness of the rich diversity of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.
Join the conversation as we post a new word for each week!
Week Twenty-Six 26 June – 1 July 2019.
Indigenous Languages Coordinator, State Library of Queensland
State Library of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Webpages
State Library of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Map
Jarjum stories: A kuril dhagun showcase focusing on children’s books and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. Opens 19 October 2019.
Spoken: celebrating Queensland languages: A major exhibition exploring the survival and revival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages throughout Queensland. Join in the many talks and events to celebrate the rich and diverse languages spoken today. Opens 21 November 2019.
The word of the week was suggested by Bel Lui, Torres Strait Islander community member, Cairns.
State Library Source: Haddon, A. (1971) Reports of the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to Torres Strait. Q 994.38 CAM
6341 Dr Wilhelm Rechnitz Papers.
Darnley Island dancers performing at the celebration of the Coming of the Light, 1965. Image No. 6341-0001-0057.
Dance at the celebrations for the Coming of the Light, Darnley Island, 1965. Image No. 6341-0001-0675.
Other materials in the State Library collections relating to Meriam Mir and neighbouring languages of the Torres Strait include the following:
Babia, M. and Day, E. Torres Strait Picture Dictionary. JUVQ 499.1503 tor
Davies, A. Notes 1924-1925. OM66-02/3
Edwards, R. Some songs from the Torres Strait. Q 782.5162 SOM
Erub: The Coming of the Light. Digital Story. Darnley Island Arts Centre. 29469
Gisu, S. Meriba Mir Erwerem: a book on reading and writing Meriam Mir for people who already read English. Q 499.15 MER
Jukes, J. Narrative of the surveying voyage of the HMS Fly. J 919.43 JUK
Lawrie, M. Myths and legends of the Torres Strait. Q 398.2099438 MYT
Lawrie, M. The Margaret Lawrie Collection of Torres Straits Materials. TR2082
MacGillivray, J. Narrative of the Voyage of the HMS Rattlesnake. G 994.02 1967
Mosby, L. Stephens, N and Teske, T. D is for dari : a Torres Strait picture dictionary. P 994.38 MOS
Piper, N. A sketch grammar of Meryam Mir. Q 499.15 pip
Ray, S. Dictionary of Torres Strait Languages. Q 499.1503 RAY
Scragg, S. Retold: A retelling of stories and songs from Myths and Legends of the Torres Strait by Margaret Lawrie. DVD 27464
Sharp, N. Stars of Tagai: the Torres Strait Islanders. G 994.38 1993
Shnukal, A. Broken, an introduction to the Creole language of Torres Strait. J 427 shn
Singe, J. The Torres Strait: people and history. G 994.38 1989
Tabo, S. Triggerfish and Trevally = Nageg and Geigi. A traditional story retold by Stephen Tabo; illustrated by Peter Lankas. JUV 398.2 TAB
Vocabulary of the Murray Island dialect [microform]. FILM 0713
6341 Dr Wilhelm Rechnitz Papers 1949-1972.