Geo quiz & geo answer

The World
The World

We’re headed to Australia for today’s Geo Quiz. We’re looking for a town and a language today.

The town is the northernmost urban settlement on Australia’s east coast. It’s named after British explorer James Cook.

There are two languages spoken in the vicinity. One is English and the other is … well that’s for you to figure out.

Here’s a hint: it’s the language that gave us the word “kangaroo.” But don’t take too long.

The answer’s coming up in just a few seconds.

For the answer to today’s geo quiz, we turn to Peter Austin.

He’s director of the Endangered Language Program at the University of London.

Remember we were looking for a town, and a language. First the language.

Peter Austin: It’s called Guugu Yimidhirr, and there are about 200 people who speak it today. It’s spoken around the town of Cooktown in Northern Queensland.

And that’s our answer.

Now it’s true many of the world’s more than 6,000 languages are vanishing fast. But Peter Austin says there are success stories too, where languages have been revitalized, in places like Wales and Hawaii, and New Zealand, home to tens of thousands of Maori speakers.

Peter Austin: In the Maori case they established what they called “korhangareo” which literally means langauge nests, and these were preschools that were set up in which children were looked after in a daycare situation by adults, usually a grandparent generation who were charged with only speaking Maori to the children.

If you want to hear the full interview with Peter Austin, check out our podcast on language and languages.

The podcast’s called The World in Words. There’s a new edition every week.

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