Mike Ladd: Learn to Speak the Language

Oz

This has to be shared… Such a fitting response to a common but oh so embarrassingly-ignorant attitude.

I was on the bus to town.
On the seat in front of me
two women were chatting in Punjabi,
and the guy sitting next to me says:
“If you come to this country
you should learn to speak the language.”

“Yeah. You’re right” I said,
“So how’s your Kaurna?
And how good are ya
at Pitjantjatjara?
Fancy a chat in Ngarkat?

And you know, it’s a pity we don’t hear
more Peramangk at the bank,
more Tiwi on the TV,
more Wik at the picnic
and more Arrente on the verandah.

And, if you expect to live here,
you really oughta
know some Yorta-Yorta,
get your tongue
around Bundjalung,
grasp the meaning in Mirning
and know the score in Eora.

Kamilaroi and Wiradjuri,
Luritja and Walpiri,
understand their poetry.

You’re right, if you come to this country,
You should learn to speak the language.”
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