Linguistics is a field that you’ve probably heard of, but would struggle to describe, and linguists are not exactly thick on the ground.
However, the Bundiyarra-Irra Wangga Language Centre in Geraldton, part of Bundiyarra Aboriginal Community Aboriginal Corporation (BACAC), is fertile ground for linguists and has welcomed another university student from the University of WA, Mitchell Browne, 20, for two weeks’ work experience understanding the region’s languages.
Working alongside the language centre’s Linguist, Rosie Sitorus – who was a university work experience student at Bundiyarra herself – Mitchell is getting hands-on experience and learning some skills he can take into the field of understanding and preserving languages.
Language Centre Coordinator, Jayden Dann, said Bundiyarra-Irra Wangga is pleased to help another university student gain experience in the field of linguistics – which in its simplest form is trying to find and understand patterns in language for recording and preservation.
“Irra Wangga is pleased to facilitate yet another student from university to gain important training, learning, mentoring and knowledge to give the best insight into what language work/linguistics entails,” he said.
“Irra Wangga is essentially upskilling Mitchell to go into a field that is highly important to Aboriginal people which is the documentation and revitalisation of Aboriginal languages.”
Mitchell, who is studying an Arts degree majoring in Linguistics and Management, said he segued into linguistics from another language – computer code.
“I’ve always been interested in different ways of communicating, especially at the subconscious level, and as part of my degree I am required to study another elective which led me to linguistics,” he said.
Mitchell said he hopes to work as a linguist or continue research into languages, especially preserving them.
“I’d like to thank the Bundiyarra-Irra Wangga Language Centre for allowing me to undertake this unique work experience,” he said.
Bundiyarra certainly lives up to its name – ‘a good place’ – with Rosie, and Linguist before her, James Bednall, doing work experience there before being permanently employed!