Living Language: Country, Culture, Community

Living Language exhibition, 2019 (Photo courtesy Joy Lai, State Library of NSW)

Marking the UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages, the exhibition Living Language: Country, Culture, Community at the State Library of NSW builds on the Library’s historical collections with stories of resilience and achievement from communities throughout NSW.

The exhibition celebrates the resilience of our Aboriginal languages using original documents and interviews with language custodians on Country. It has been guided by these custodians, whose knowledge and experience have enhanced and challenged our understanding of Aboriginal language materials in the Library’s collection.

Adding to the story are significant early wordlists borrowed from overseas collections. The notebook of William Dawes records not only individual words of Sydney Coastal languages, but also conversations. Some of the Awabakal language from the Newcastle region is preserved in American linguist Horatio Hale’s notebook, which returns to Australia for the first time since it was written more than 150 years ago.

When: 13 July 2019 to 3 May 2020
Where: Exhibition Galleries, State Library of NSW, Macquarie Street, Sydney


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