November 16, 2010

untie me barry!

A munanga friend was telling me a funny story the other day, which I hope she doesn't mind me repeating here.

She got a text message from a Kriol-speaking relative but she didn't know who it was from. The number wasn't stored in her phone. So she replied with a 'who's this?' type message and then the reply came...

"untie me barry"

This SMS caused quite a bit of confusion. Untie him? Why, what's happened? Has he been locked up? Is someone holding him captive? Knowing that Kriol speakers are susceptible to not expressing themselves perfectly clearly over text messages, she didn't completely panic. But still... 'untie me barry'?

After going back to the message about 5 times, finally it clicked. My friend was reading the stress wrong and the sender was using non-English spelling to show that he was 'writing' in Kriol. She finally decoded the message:

Aunty! Me, Barry!

Which in standard Kriol spelling, would read: Anti, mi, Barry.)

Too funny!

I love that Kriol speakers are getting into new literacy practices like you find in text messaging, email and facebook. These writing forms have a lot more in common with spoken language than traditional writing forms like letter-writing and prose do. So naturally, Kriol speakers want to capture Kriol in their text messages. But unless you've learned the standard writing system (only some have), then you just have to approximate and do the best you can. In terms of language development, this is exciting because it may mean that new standardised spellings may evolve, naturally.

But in the meantime, Barry's Aunty is happy that Barry isn't tied up at all. And next time he's texts her, she'll know who it is...

November 03, 2010

Gumbaynggirr piece by Aden Ridgeway wins UN media peace award!

Last year I blogged about an opinion piece by Aden Ridgeway that was written in Gumbaynggirr and how cool it was. Well, it seems the UN also thought it was pretty cool because they gave it a media peace award! See an article about it here.

Good work Aden and also well done to those involved with the great work that seems to be going on in reviving Gumbaynggirr and making Muurrbay one of the best language centres in Australia (if not *the* best).