Stories from heart help languages thrive


Professor Steven Bird

Professor Steven Bird

Women from across the world who have made their home in the Northern Territory will share stories at an event in Palmerston this week in celebration of International Mother Language Day. 

The “Treasure Language Storytelling” evening on Sunday 25 February* will include storytellers from the Philippines, Syria, Burma, Mexico and Indigenous Australia.

The producer of the show, Charles Darwin University Professor Steven Bird said the women would share stories in their mother tongues before translating them into English.

“Seldom do we get to experience the oral traditions of immigrant and Indigenous storytellers at a single event, but at this event the audience will have an opportunity to appreciate the musicality and verbal art of languages through the storytelling,” he said.

“Our first rehearsal with the storytellers was a magical experience and we all went away feeling uplifted and full of appreciation.”

Professor Bird's research has taken him to Africa, Melanesia, Amazonia and most recently, to Arnhem Land, where he works with local people to design technologies to help keep Indigenous languages strong.

Three years ago he went to San Francisco to raise support for a mobile app, but he returned with a new concept for public storytelling.

"When we celebrate these languages, recognise the people who are keeping them strong and allow their wisdom to speak to us, they become encouraged to maintain their languages and everyone's lives are enriched, “ Professor Bird said.. “It is a great way for us to prepare for the United Nations Year of Indigenous Languages in 2019.”

Treasure Language Storytelling – Women's Stories from the Heart is a ticketed event at the Durack Community Centre, Palmerston on Sunday 25 March from 5pm until 7pm. For further details see “Aikuma Project” on Facebook or visit W:

*International Mothers Language Day is formally observed on 21 February

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