New Australian 50 cent coin features 14 indigenous languages
Australia has issued a new 50 cent coin celebrating some of the country’s indigenous languages, many of which are at risk of extinction.
The new design incorporates 14 translations of the word “coin” from languages native to the Australian continent, developed in collaboration by the Royal Australian Mint and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS).
“These coins are a celebration of Australia’s unique and diverse indigenous languages, we hope the coins will serve as a tangible reminder of the important efforts being undertaken to preserve, protect and revitalize indigenous languages in Australia” Mint CEO Ross MacDiarmid said in a statement.
The coin was launched in Adelaide, South Australia, on April 8, and features the indigenous language of the traditional people of the area, the Kaurna. It was launched as part of countrywide efforts to mark the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages.
More than 1,000 languages around the world are listed as either severely or critically endangered by UNESCO, and hundreds of indigenous tongues have gone extinct since records began in 1950.
Languages connect people to their historical culture and community, and groups that retain their indigenous languages have been shown to have improved social and emotional well-being, compared to groups which have lost their traditional tongues.
“Indigenous languages carry more meaning than the words themselves, so too does currency carry meaning beyond its monetary value. The release of these coins is another milestone in recognizing the diverse cultures that shape our national story of over 60,000 years,” Craig Ritchie, CEO of AIATSIS, said in a statement.
In Australia, around 130 indigenous languages have died out since Europeans invaded the continent in 1788. A blank spot on the new coin is designed to represent those languages that have been lost.