Nganga: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Words and Phrases
Sue Lawson & Auntie Fay Muir
Black Dog Books, 2018
144pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99
From the publisher…“Nganga is an authoritative and concise collection of words and phrases related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and issues.
Nganga (ng gar na): To see and understand. Aunty, Uncle, sorry business, deadly, women’s business, marngrook, dreamtime, Elders, songlines. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander words have become part of our everyday vocabulary but we may not know their true meaning or where the words come from. In Nganga, Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson have brought together these words, their meanings and their history. “
Because Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir is an Elder and Traditional Owner of Boon Wurrung Country; the senior linguist at the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages in Melbourne; and an advisor for the national curriculum on language and culture, the authority of this book is impeccable.
Beginning with an explanation of the clan system and the conflicts between the Aboriginal belief system and that of the European settlers which has led to deep-seated issues that are still being resolved, it explains some of the terms commonly used by our indigenous peoples, many of which have a different interpretation from the traditional English meaning normally associated with them. There is a difference between Aboriginal, aboriginal and aborigine and while we associate “aunty” with a sister of our parents, for Aboriginal Peoples it is a term or respect for any older woman, whether a relative or not.
Given it is only 56 years since all indigenous Australians were given the right to vote in federal elections and while there has been progress towards respect, recognition and reconciliation in many areas, there are still divisions amongst the cultures including the recognition of January 26 as Invasion Day rather than Australia Day, so any authoritative resource that can increase our students’ understanding of the place and role that indigenous Australians have in this country’s history and culture has to be welcomed and promoted as essential.
Well set out, written in language that is easily accessible with lots of cross-references for better understanding, this should be an integral part of any unit focusing on the ATSI cross-curriculum priority.