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New Snapchat Augmented Reality lens to educate Parkes residents on Wiradjuri language | Parkes Champion-Post | Parkes, NSW

New Snapchat Augmented Reality lens to educate Parkes residents on Wiradjuri language | Parkes Champion-Post | Parkes, NSW

New Snapchat Augmented Reality lens to educate Parkes residents on Wiradjuri language

Mirri is the word for dog in Wiradjuri.

PARKES residents can continue to develop their knowledge and awareness of the Wiradjuri language in a novel new way – an Augmented Reality (AR) lens on Snapchat.

In celebration of International Mother Language Day on February 21, Snapchat has partnered with First Languages Australia to launch a series of language learning lenses that help raise awareness and educate young Aussies on Australia’s first languages and Indigenous culture.

The day has been officially observed around the world since the United Nations made a concerted attempt to promote linguistic diversity to ensure threatened native languages do not disappear.

Australia is home to more than 750 distinct Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, many of which are now endangered.

Each lens uses AR and machine learning to identify different objects and display their name in four Indigenous languages: Wiradjuri (which covers the Parkes Shire and much of central NSW), Yugambeh (south-east Queensland), Wakka Wakka (central Queensland) and Yawuru (Broome in Western Australia).

Over 170 objects across the four languages will be available to begin with, providing Indigenous word translations for common day objects such as ‘ear’ (‘wudha’ in Wiradjuri), ‘spider’ (‘wanggarranggarra’ in Yawuru) and ‘hat’ (‘binka’ in Yugambeh).

The Lenses are accessible globally via Snapchat from today, by searching “Learn Wiradjuri”, “Learn Yugambeh”, “Learn Wakka Wakka” or “Learn Yawuru”, or scanning the Snapcode below in Snapchat.

Snapchatters just have to point their cameras at an object to scan it, and the Lens automatically displays the object’s English and Indigenous language names in real time, along with an audible clip of the word to help with pronunciation.

Snapchatters will also be able to swipe up to learn more about these languages from the First Languages Australia website, which CEO Beau Willaims said was a brilliant initiative for our young Australians.

“It is so important that we continue to support and promote the languages of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” he said.

“We know millions of young Aussies use Snapchat everyday – so this is an incredible opportunity for them to experience our First Nations’ languages in a fun and interactive way on a platform that they love.

“This project will boost recognition of our languages globally and will support our grassroots programs and help to engage our young people,” said Beau.


Geoff Anderson, the Parkes Wiradjuri Language Group coordinator, was one of the key drivers behind the project, and he said it was just another opportunity for Parkes residents to continue their education.

“Having our languages on Snapchat is such an amazing opportunity to enhance the knowledge of our language,” he said ahead of International Mother Language Day.

“Being able to scan objects and see our word for it will hopefully encourage people to use it in their everyday lives.”

Parkes has a very strong history of teaching primary and secondary students all about Wiradjuri langage and culture – and these days every pupil will likely have one Wirajuri language lesson a week – something not entirely commonplace in other country towns.

It’s thanks to Geoff and people like language educators Iesha Charlton and Kyah Turnbull, that Parkes has such a strong focus on educating young people about Wiradjuri culture, and this initiative with Snapchat will only strengthen that.

The Wakka Wakka lens.

It will allow millenials, in particular, to continue learning in their own time, and as Geoff explains, the initiative is perfectly timed.

“They can learn in a fun way and walk around school pointing it at things, and funninly enough the theme this year for First Language Day is ‘using technology for multilingual learning’, which just fits brilliantly for what we’re trying to do,” he said.

“If you just start by learning a couple of words a day, that’s a great way to start learning more.

“We want as many people understanding the importance of Aboriginal languages as possible.

“There’s over 30 Wiradjuri words on the app, and 170 all up, so you can learn the Wiradjuri words for everyday objects,” said Geoff.

Snapchat’s general manager for APAC, Kathryn Carter, commented that the company’s partnership with First Languages Australia was a powerful way to connect with the six million Australians that are Snapchat users.

“We’re thrilled to collaborate with First Languages Australia, and hope these Lenses represent our small part in supporting Australia’s Aborigibal and Torres Strait Islander communities in a unique way,” she said.

“We believe the camera is a powerful tool for discovery and learning, and these lenses are such a great example of that.

“The history, culture and languages of our Indigenous people is rich, diverse and meaningful – it’s so important that we honour and share them with the next generation of young Australians,” said Kathryn.

There are obviously plans in the future to continue to expand the vocabularly capabilites of the app, but fortunately the AR lens have a machine learning capability – which basically means the more it is used, the better it will get at identifying things.

So get snapping, and learning, this International Mother Language Day.

Always was, always will be.

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