Gangulu Language Revitalisation

RUIL have been supporting the work of Thomas Watson to revive his language Gangulu since 2022. Thomas first became interested in his language in 2019 when attending a family reunion on Gangulu country in Central Queensland. He had hoped to learn some language on his visit but was surprised to find that Gangulu was no longer spoken in the community.

Thomas then began work to learn and revive his language, gathering everything that was written or recorded of his language. He initially found support from Living Languages in particular Andrew Tanner to help him understand these materials and begin to use some of his language.

Thomas joined RUIL as part of the Indigenous Scholar Scheme in 2022. Working with RUIL team member Dr Bill Forshaw, Thomas continued his work reviving Gangulu. This included developing a language database, transcribing manuscripts in Nyingarn, returning manuscripts to community, contributing to 50 Words and growing his knowledge of Gangulu and linguistics more generally.

Together Thomas and Bill have been successful in gaining funding from First Languages Australia and the Indigenous Languages and Arts program to support the development of the first Gangulu Learner’s Guide and Dictionary. This project will make the knowledge held in manuscripts and linguistics articles more accessible to Gangulu people and support the ongoing revival of the language. It is Thomas’ dream to one day speak his language and to teach it to the next generation. The Learner’s Guide is a meaningful step in this direction. The team hopes to publish the Gangulu Learner’s Guide and Dictionary in 2025

This project is supported by the First Languages Australia Priority Language Support Program, Indigenous Languages and Arts Program and the RUIL Indigenous Scholar Scheme.

This research project has been approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of the University of Melbourne. Project number: 2023-28013-47674-3

Thomas Watson and Uncle Steve Kemp learning on Gangulu country near Woorabinda.

Thomas Watson and Uncle Steve Kemp learning on Gangulu country near Woorabinda.