This morning I have sent the following email to the ABC in South Australia. Whether it will change anything, I do not know. To spread the truth is often a very difficult thing:
"Thank you very much for the very interesting article: How one Indigenous man found identity through the almost-lost Kaurna language, written by Brett Williamson. And sorry for writing back so late, but the flu caught me.
My name is Maike Vogt-Luerssen. I am a historian and I was born in Germany. When I was 39 years of age, my family and I emigrated to Australia. We are now so-called German-born Australians. For the first two years we lived in Alice Springs and a friend introduced me to her aboriginal friend who had a book in his hands. When I opened it and read it, he was so astonished that I was able to speak his language. But the only thing I really did was reading the letters like I would have done had I still lived in Germany. This was indeed the first encounter with the German missionaries of the 19th century who wrote down the languages of the Aboriginal groups “in German”.
Since we have been living in Adelaide, I have been always irritated, when the Kaurna people call themselves “Garna people”. As you can see, “Kaurna” is not “Garna”. The German missionaries like Christian Gottlieb Teichelmann (1802-1883) wrote “Kaurna”. Your article has shown that the language of the Kaurna people got indeed totally lost, because the descendants were not even able to pronounce their forefathers correctly any longer. Therefore now everybody, Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal, says “Garna”. Although the real pronunciation can be found in our extraordinary South Australian Museum. Here you read:
When Europeans arrived in 1836 to the Adelaide area, it was occupied by an Aboriginal group identified as the Kaurna (pronounced cow-r-na) people. ...”
Are we not able to correct this mistake so that everybody knows the right pronunciation is “Kaurna” and not “Garna”?
Please tell Mr. Goldsmith, if he needs help reading the records or notes of Christian Gottlieb Teichelmann regarding the pronunciation of the language of his forefathers he should get in contact with me. The language of our forefathers plays a big part in our personal history and of ourselves. It connects us with our own past. And as a historian I can tell you, without a past there is no future.
Kind regards, Maike"