AustLit logo
Issue Details: First known date: 2017... 2017 Why Historians Need Linguists (And Linguists Need Historians)
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'In the 1970s and 1980s, Luise Hercus pioneered interdisciplinary approaches to Aboriginal history. Bringing her linguistic expertise to history, she presented Aboriginal histories in Aboriginal languages to an academic readership. Biḍa-ru ‘gana mayi aḷali baldi-lugu gadna-ru ‘they killed her, they ripped her open with a bullet’. Speaking in Wangkangurru, Ben Murray retold stories of the massacres of his forebears in the Simpson Desert in the pages of Aboriginal History (Hercus 1977: 56, 58, 61). Hercus conducted and recorded interviews in Wangkangurru and Arabana to hear Aboriginal perspectives on the wadjabala maḍimaḍi (‘white fellows with hair-string’), that is, the ‘Afghans’ and their travels across South Australia (Hercus 1981, 1985: 27, 39). Whereas others had tended to ignore or downplay the actual words Aboriginal people spoke and the language of their stories, she insisted on representing Aboriginal stories first in Aboriginal languages, and then in English (Austin, Hercus & Jones 1988: 116-117; Hercus & Sutton 1986:4). Of course, these histories come to us mediated by Hercus’ transcription, translation and interpretation – we are not with Ben Murray as he speaks – but Hercus brought her readers closer to Aboriginal people’s experience and memories through representing Aboriginal languages.'

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Language Land and Song : Studies in Honour of Luise Hercus Peter Austin (editor), Harold Koch (editor), Jane Simpson (editor), Australia : Endangered Languages Publishing , 2017 15316152 2017 anthology criticism biography

    'The contributors to this book highlight current practice in language documentation, drawing on insights from anthropology, digital humanities, education, ethnography, history, linguistics and musicology. The book shows how the value of this multi-faceted documentation has become clear over the last 50 years.' (Publication summary)

    Australia : Endangered Languages Publishing , 2017
    pg. 480-491
Last amended 6 Dec 2018 09:07:21
480-491 Why Historians Need Linguists (And Linguists Need Historians)small AustLit logo