A note on Miriwoong Spelling

A Note on Miriwoong Spelling

Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring Language and Culture Centre (MDWg) is the official authority for any matters in relation to Miriwoong language, including its spelling system. The Miriwoong orthography was established in 1989 in consultation between Miriwoong Elders and linguists.

Over the past years, MDWg has published a range of language learning resources, including a dictionary, a smartphone app, films, and numerous books – all following the recognised spelling system.

MDWg also is aware that the organisation in charge of native title administration (“MG Corp”) uses a spelling in their corporation name which does not comply with the existing spelling rules (they use “Miriuwung”).

While we acknowledge that it can be difficult to change a corporation name and that MG Corp may want to keep using the deviating spelling in their registered name, we must also insist that any other use of the word Miriwoong, such as in referring to people or language, should follow the recognised orthography.

MDWg’s mission to revitalise the Miriwoong language includes teaching oracy and literacy in the language to more than 500 learners each week and it is crucial that we avoid confusion about the spelling of the language name. Miriwoong now is a written language and it does matter that it is spelt correctly – starting with the language name. One may imagine the outcry if a single organisation decided that English should be spelt as “Inglish” and Australia as “Ostraliya”. In the same way, people teaching Miriwoong to young and adult learners feel disrespected when Miriwoong is spelt as “Miriuwung” in the media.

For a language with so many new learners it is critical that the community is united in accepting an endorsed system rather than confusing learners with alternative ways of spelling.

We would strongly encourage you to use the spelling “Miriuwung” only when referring to MG Corp’s corporation name but use MIRIWOONG in all other situations. This will include terms such as “Miriwoong language”, “Miriwoong people”, “Miriwoong country”, or “Miriwoong elder”.

Thank you for your consideration.

Dr Knut J. Olawsky (Manager, Senior Linguist) and Rozanne Bilminga (Chairperson)