LinguaPhiliax: My Own Australia Day Tradition


Hello, everybody! I’m LinguaPhiliax, and
the 26th of January is almost upon us… … so it’s almost time for me to
start my annual tradition… … of refusing to use the English language
on this day in any way, shape or form. And what’s so special about the
26th of January you may ask? Well, apart from being Ellen DeGeneres’ birthday… … you will get two very different answers
depending on whom you’re asking. Most people will tell you that the
26th of January is Australia Day, … … when we celebrate this “great” country,
by putting lamb roast on a barbeque… … cracking open a beer or some other
alcoholic beverage, and watching the… … cricket or football or whatever sport thing
is on TV at the moment. I’m sure by my tone of voice you can hear
how excited I am about all that. I do just want to say first off that I don’t
actually mind other people doing any of that, … …and I’m not trying to say that people who celebrate
Australia Day by hanging out, getting drunk … …and watching sport on TV together
are stupid or anything like that. It’s just not my thing per se,
’cause I’m not that kind of person. It does annoy me that I’m kind of
expected to be that person, … …especially when it’s reinforced
by Aussie stereotypes, … …but I don’t mean any disrespect if any of you watching
celebrate Australia Day in this way. And even though it’s not my thing, it’s still not
exactly the main reason I have this tradition of… … “No Béarla” on Australia Day, but it is relevant
because a lot of people… … don’t fully understand what they’re
celebrating on this day. The 26th of January is significant in
Australian history because it is the day… … Captain Arthur Phillip, along with a few
other officials, claimed possession of Botany Bay… … in the name of King George III
to establish a penal colony there. Really exciting stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree. But there was just one small problem with all that:
there were already people living there. And right now, you might be thinking, … … “Well, duh. It’s the British Empire. They didn’t
exactly care about Indigenous peoples much.” And usually, you would be right, but in this case
the fact that there were Indigenous peoples… … in Australia at the time is actually significant,
and it’s all got to do with this guy… … whom most of you know as Captain Cook. Although, fun fact: Captain Cook was never
actually promoted to Captain in his life. People just called him that after his death
basically for alliteration’s sake. Instead, he was a lieutenant at the time
he first arrived in Australia. Anyway, in 1768, twenty years prior to
the significant day in question, … … Lt. Cook was commissioned by the British Govt. to
command a scientific voyage to the Pacific Ocean… … to observe and record the transit of
Venus across the Sun the following year. Yeah, really boring and not particularly
relevant I know, but moving on. The initial voyage was not much of a success,
but prior to his expedition, … … Cook was given secret instructions that he was only
permitted to open after his observations were complete. These secret orders now instructed him to
search for the supposed southern continent… … “Terra Australis” and contained additional
instructions he was required to follow… … upon finding the legendary continent. Part of these instructions explicitly stated that
he can only claim land in the name of the King, … … either if he gets permission from
the native people living there, … … or if there is nobody living there at all in which case
he can claim possession of the land as first discoverer. Lt. Cook of course did find this “Terra Australis”
which would later become Australia, … … but he definitely was not the first inhabitant there. In fact, it’s estimated there were around
750,000 Indigenous Australians… … living in the continent at the time. Just saying, that’s a pretty big number to overlook. And not only do we know for a fact that Lt. Cook
did come into contact with Indigenous Australians, … … but we also know for a fact that
the Indigenous Australians at the time… … never would have granted him possession of the
continent in the first place because… … it would go against one of the fundamental principles
of pretty much every Aboriginal culture across Australia. I don’t have the time or the exact authority
to go into too much detail, but… … basically every individual in an Australian society
was expected to take care of their own country. It is their duty to look after their own section of the
environment that they have ancestral ties to… … and this duty is granted to them
from the moment they were born. Do you seriously think they would allow
some random foreigner who was… … blissfully unaware of these expectations to claim
ownership of the countries in which they live? I don’t think so! But here’s the kicker: despite the fact that
there were people living there, … … and despite the fact they never would
have given him permission to do so, … … Lt. Cook still decided to claim ownership of Australia
deeming the continent “terra nullius” – “nobody’s land”. In 1770, Lt. Cook directly lied to the British Govt.
just so he could steal half of the entire continent. And he did it all with just these two words. This means that technically, even according to
the law at the time, the colonisation of Australia… … that was first carried out on the 26th of January
in 1788 was illegal right from the get-go… … because the land was not legally
owned by the British Empire. Over the next 200 years following British colonisation,
(or more accurately, British *invasion*) … … Indigenous Australians were expected to conform
to British ideals, which involved having to… … move away from country, disassociate
oneself from totemic and kinship systems, … … be separated from families and friends,
and most relevantly to this video… … be forced to speak a ridiculously incomprehensible
and entirely foreign language. If Indigenous Australians didn’t conform
to what was expected of them, … … they were either sent to prison or killed, basically. They weren’t even counted as being part of
the Australian population until the 1967 Referendum. But going back to Australia Day, it is for this reason
that most Indigenous Australians… … don’t celebrate “Australia Day” at all, but instead
go into mourning on what they call… … “Invasion Day” or “Survival Day”. And just to rub salt into the wound, the descendants
of the people who caused all that genocidal torture… … still decide to celebrate
their invasion of the continent anyway. To put that into perspective, imagine just
as an example an alternate history in which… … Turkey has taken over Australia (bear with me)
and the entire population is now expected… … to celebrate how great and wonderful Turkey is… … on ANZAC Day. When you think about from an Indigenous perspective,
celebrating Australia Day is basically the equivalent of… … celebrating Turkey’s victory at Gallipoli in WWI,
the direct cause of death for thousands of… … Australian and New Zealand soldiers. But you may be asking where
the English language comes into all this. Well, it’s not specifically the English language itself,
but the fact that English is my native language. Indigenous Australians were actively beaten in school
for even attempting to speak their native tongue, … … and that was the norm up until the late 1960’s. It’s estimated that around 250 distinct languages
with around 600 dialects… … were spoken in Australia prior to invasion. However nowadays, only 20 are spoken fluently
by all age groups, whereas… … 100 are exclusively spoken by old people
and the rest are largely defunct. That may change in the future, hopefully for the better,
but those are the stats as they stand now. And I’m not just doing this because 2019 is
the International Year of Indigenous Languages, … … although that is another good reason, but
also because language is tied directly to… … the culture of the people who speak it. You can’t have a language without a culture
and vice versa. And I cannot in good conscience celebrate a day
that robbed hundreds of thousands of people… … of their own linguistic and cultural heritage. Especially when it could have all been avoided if
one person in the right place for one single moment… … had decided not to abuse his own
power to get what he wanted. And that in a nutshell is why I refuse to speak
my native language on the 26th of January: … … in honour of those countless others who were
forced to do the same over the past two centuries. So the limitations I have set myself are as follows:
I am not allowed to speak, write or type… … any English words for any reason on the 26th. Not even to upload videos, which is why this came out
on the 25th before the tragic day in question. The only English you’ll hear me speak is in videos
that were recorded beforehand… … because I can’t exactly control any of that. I am allowed to read books, watch TV or listen to music
and I am allowed to speak in other languages… … draw pictures or use hand gestures to get my message across, … … but I am not allowed to use my native tongue
on the 26th of January in any form. Thank you all for listening,
and we’ll speak again next time! (Unless, it’s tomorrow of course.)

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