Awabakal

‘Welcome’

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General Language Information:

The language spoken around the Newscastle and Lake Macquarie region of NSW. The name ‘Awabakal’ means people of the plain or flat surface and is believed to refer to the surface of the lake.

Awabakal was studied by Reverend Lancelot Edward Threlkeld (pictured right) from 1825 until his death in 1859, having been taught the language by Biraban (meaning ‘eagle hawk’, pictured below) , a Awabakal tribal leader. In 1827 Threlkeld’s Specimen’s of a Dialect of the Aborigines of New South Wales was the earliest attempt at exhibiting the structure of an Australian language. Unfortunately sometime in the late 19th century the language became extinct, there are attempts to revive it.

Professor Nick Evans, Head of Linguistics at the Australian National University reflects: “language is like an oral encyclopaedia for the people who speak it,… Vast tracts of human knowledge of the world are enfolded in these languages. That knowledge is not available to us if we don’t speak, document and translate these languages.” (news.anu.edu.au)

Useful links:

Some of the information contained in this Fact sheet is from the following websites:

www.newcastle.edu.au/group/amrhd/awaba/language/index.html

There is also an online English-Awabakal Dictionary at

www.newcastle.edu.au/group/amrhd/awaba/language/dictionary/index.html

 

Some examples of Awabakal words:

Wakool—one

Bulowara—two

Ngoro—three

Wara—four or five (also the word for the palm of the hand)

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