A team from the University of South Australia’s School of Linguistics and International Studies (SLAS) has created a video, which is a mash-up of the language of Sri Lanka and a popular Soho-based video app.
The team of linguists from the School of Languages, Culture, and Social Change at SLAS is part of the Australian Institute for Language Research (AILA), which is the country’s leading national research and teaching institution for linguistics and cultural studies.
It is based in Canberra and is a joint initiative between SLAS, the Centre for Linguistic Research at Monash University, and the Australian National University (ANU).
The two universities are currently co-chairing a major conference for the topic of ‘Linguistic Change and Literacy in Sub-Saharan Africa’.
“We were looking for a language that was accessible, not just culturally, but also intellectually and socially,” Associate Professor Robert Jones, the lead of the project, said.
“There are two things that we were really looking for.
First, language was an important element in social change, particularly in the context of colonialism, and second, it had a great deal of historical and cultural value.”
The other element that was important, and we have a lot of heritage in Sri Lanka, was language, and that’s why we were looking at it.
“The video, entitled ‘Sri Lankans in Suburbs’, shows the team of three linguists walking through a community in Suburu, a town in the southern town of Dharamshala.
It shows the locals, who are dressed in traditional costumes and carry bamboo sticks in their hands, playing in the street.
In the background, they are surrounded by a wall of people dressed in colourful traditional clothes and carrying bamboo sticks.
The group are wearing traditional clothes, with a few examples of what might be described as Western-style clothing.”
This video is meant to be a bit of a guide to the language,” Associate Prof Jones said.”[But] it also has cultural significance.
“It’s a sort of cultural history lesson.”
Languages are spoken in more than 50 countries, and a large number of the languages spoken are spoken by ethnic groups.
The people of Suburu are known for their strong social ties, and this video provides a good example of how that may have played out over the past two centuries.
“It’s not a documentary, it’s not an educational film,” Associate professor Jones said of the video.
“What we’re trying to do is create an accessible language for a broad range of people.”
One of the key things that the project aims to do, is to help people understand how they can use a language.
“If people can understand it, then it’s an opportunity for them to engage with it in a meaningful way, and if they can’t understand it they’re more likely to just go off and do something else.”
“We hope that this video will inspire others to engage in language learning, as well as engage in cultural change, and help them to create a language of their own.”