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New Indigenous language app Gurray is helping preserve and promote First Nations languages

Dechlan Brennan -

A new app is being hailed as a big step in the preservation and teaching of First Nations languages.

Gurray, derived from the Wiradjuri word for "change" or "refreshment", allows users to see contextually relevant words in any one of seven First Nations languages as they type and then replace the English word.

Created by the Wiradjuri Condoblin Corporation (WCC), Gurray allows users to seamlessly switch between the app and your device's current keyboard, to "incorporate Indigenous languages into any app or context featuring text".

WCC says Gurray is "poised to bridge linguistic divides, promote cultural diversity and elevate Indigenous language usage in everyday life like never before".

Currently, the extension features seven different languages to translate into: Barngarla, Latji Latji, Mutti Mutti, Nari Nari, Tati Tati, Wadi Wadi and Yorta Yorta.

WCC Language Program project manager, Joel Harrison, told National Indigenous Times Gurray has had a "great" reception.

"We've had some national press, it's been amazing. To see the response on a national level is really wonderful," he said.

Gurray's development has partly come from WCC's long-standing relationship with these language groups, enabling the best possible interface for users.

Mr Harrison said WCC have created both digital and physical language resources in the past, and this is just another step towards the continual promotion and revitalisation of First Nations languages.

"This new app is another extension to support the amazing work from all language workers and groups from around the country," Mr Harrison said.

He said Gurray is for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and is about exploring the world of languages.

"The app is for anyone who is on a language journey, who loves exploring languages," he said.

The Gurray interface gives multiple contextual options for words.

Mr Harrison said with the seven language groups currently on the app, "there is a large spread of availability" which contributes to the number of words each language group's dictionary contains.

They range from Nari Nari, which only has 28 words on Gurray currently; to Barngarla, which has "thousands".

He said that there are plans in the future to expand the app to incorporate more languages.

"Apps are always evolving and growing. We've got interest from other language groups we've been talking to. We have to remember that currently this is only seven languages from a possible 250 in Australia," he said.

WCC says that Gurray works as a simple keyboard extension. After downloading the app for free, the user can start typing a word in their native language as normal. As they type, Gurray will display "contextually relevant words in your chosen Indigenous language".

The user then simply taps on the suggested word in their native language that is a best fit contextually, and Gurray will replace the text with the selected Indigenous word.

WCC also operates several other language learning resources. They includes board games and a mobile dictionary app that features an audible pronunciation guide.

"Each group, like the language, is completely different, and each one comes with its own hurdles to get over and challenges," Mr Harrison told the ABC.

The revitalisation of Indigenous languages has seen both NSW and Queensland adopt grants and cultural awareness weeks in recent times to shine a spotlight on Aboriginal languages.

The Guarray app itself is supported by the federal government's Indigenous Languages and Arts (ILA) program, with the goal to "express, preserve and maintain" First Nations culture and language.

WCC says representatives of a language group or language centre that are interested in having their documented language featured in future versions of Gurray can contact the Corporation via [email protected].

The Gurray app is available from the Google and Apple app store.

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