Yugambeh Language App Launch

On 19th April, the Yugambeh Museum, Language and Heritage Research Centre at Beenleigh made history when it launched the first App for a Queensland Indigenous language. The language App features approximately 1,000 words and phrases collected from John Allen (Bulumm), a Yugambeh man who lived and worked in the Tamborine-Canungra region.

Bulumm (John Allen)

Bulumm (John Allen)

By coincidence, 2013 celebrates 100 years since Bulumm sat down with John Lane, a schoolteacher at Canungra, and faithfully provided a list of Wangerriburra words. This vocabulary was documented and originally published as an appendix to the Queensland Chief Protector of Aborigines Report for 1913.  After remaining as an archival document of a forgotten language for ninety years, the Yugambeh Museum used the work of John Lane to recreate and publish the work as a community dictionary – “The language of the Wangerriburra and neighbouring groups in the Yugambeh region” [P499.15 all].

The language of the Wangerriburra and neighbouring groups in the Yugambeh region.

Wangerriburra/Yugambeh;community dictionary.

John Lane’s original notes, including Bulumm’s wordlists are also held in the John Oxley Library –  Grammar, vocabulary, and notes of the Wangerriburra Tribe.

Yugambeh Wordlist

Yugambeh Wordlist

These documents formed the basis for the Yugambeh Language App – a sample of the wordlist is shown in the image above. Everyday words covering topics such as flora, fauna, greetings, family names, body parts, numbers, landscape, etc. can be found on the App. It is hoped that the App will serve as a prototype for other language communities to use and adapt to suit their language revival.

Rory O'Connor and Jackie Huggins at the Launch.

Rory O'Connor and Jackie Huggins at the Launch.

Local media including ABC Radio were there to report on the launch – a podcast featuring a Yugambeh version of the National Anthem can be found at the 612 ABC Brisbane Website. Jackie Huggins did the official honour of launching the App in front of a large audience comprising community members, Elders and invited guests. Logan Regional Council and Logan Library staff have been actively working with the Yugambeh Museum and were also in attendance to show their support. The noted linguist Margaret Sharpe was one of the special guests and she shared her memories of working with the Yugambeh language in the 1970’s.

Mick Scanlon, community linguist and Yugambeh language speaker provides the ‘voice’ to the words of ‘Bulumm’ on the language App which can be downloaded through the Apple iTunes Store or via the Yugambeh Museum website. Mick also gave a fine rendition of “The Wedding Song” in Yugambeh language as part of the launch proceedings.

Screenshot from the Yugambeh Language App

Screenshot from the Yugambeh Language App

It was a great day – the highlight for me was hearing the Australian National Anthem sung in the Yugambeh language by a choir of schoolchildren from Rivermount College.

Des Crump – Indigenous Languages Researcher, State Library of Queensland