2019 INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF INDIGENOUS LANGUAGES: WORD OF THE WEEK – WEEK TWENTY-SIX.

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 IYIL2019 Word of the Week: Week 26.

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.


Darnley Island dancers performing at the celebration of the Coming of the Light, 1965. Image No. 6341-0001-0057.

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.

Map of Torres Straits, Reports of the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to Torres Strait. (1898)

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.


Dance at the celebrations for the Coming of the Light, Darnley Island, 1965. Image No.
6341-0001-0675.

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.

Desmond Crump

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

References

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 StraitQ 994.38 CAM

Images:

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.

Further Reading
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 DictionaryJUVQ 499.1503 tor

Davies, A. Notes 1924-1925OM66-02/3

Edwards, R. Some songs from the Torres StraitQ 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 FlyJ 919.43 JUK

Lawrie, M. Myths and legends of the Torres StraitQ 398.2099438 MYT

Lawrie, M. The Margaret Lawrie Collection of Torres Straits MaterialsTR2082 

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 MirQ 499.15 pip 

Ray, S. Dictionary of Torres Strait LanguagesQ 499.1503 RAY

Scragg, S.  Retold: A retelling of stories and songs from Myths and Legends of the Torres Strait by Margaret LawrieDVD 27464

Sharp, N. Stars of Tagai: the Torres Strait IslandersG 994.38 1993

Shnukal, A. Broken, an introduction to the Creole language of Torres StraitJ 427 shn 

Singe, J. The Torres Strait: people and historyG 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.  

Websites

Gab Titui Cultural Centre

Retold: A retelling of stories and songs from Myths and Legends of Torres StraitS

Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA)

Torres Strait Traditional Languages Centre