A football, a cup of tea, a swag and a banged-up car are just some of the new images you might be seeing on your social media.
- The Indigemoji app includes 90 emojis based on Arrernte cultural symbols and language
- It was downloaded more than 20,000 times on it’s first day, making it Apple’s most popular social networking app
- The app’s developers hope it encourages Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians to learn the language
The Indigemoji app is believed to be the first of its kind, turning Arrernte cultural symbols and language into emojis for smartphones.
Joel Liddle Perrula is the cultural consultant for the project, and is a proud Arrernte man from Alice Springs, or Mparntwe as it’s known to the local Indigenous people.
“We wanted a good mix of feelings and emotions, obviously,” Mr Liddle said.
The app was downloaded more than 20,000 times on its first day. (ABC News: Samantha Jonscher)
“We wanted a good mix of some fun items and things that would make people laugh a bit and really identify with Arrernte people and this part of Australia.”
The app includes 90 emojis and it can be downloaded for iPhone or Android.
Indigemoji was downloaded more than 20,000 times on it’s first day, ranking as the number one most popular social networking app in Apple’s App Store.
Mr Liddle said working with his aunty and nana to incorporate their traditional language into the app was a valuable process.
“The two older ladies put in the ideas that they wanted for this landscape,” he said.
Project leader Joel Liddle says his favourite emoji from the collection is the aherte, or bilby. (ABC News: Samantha Jonscher)
Each image is accompanied by its English name, as well as its Arrernte translation.
The app’s project leaders hoped that by including Arrernte translations, it would help promote the use and learning of the language.
“We need to be writing and reading in our languages so that they stay relevant in today’s age,” Mr Liddle said.
“We should be writing text messages and writing essays for school in Arrernte and we should be utilising Arrernte emojis, because if we utilise them in the digital realm then it means that they’re used daily still.”
Arrernte is one of the many Aboriginal languages still spoken as a first language in the Northern Territory.
Mr Liddle said he hoped the project would spark some interest in people who grew up as English speakers — like himself — to get involved and to learn the language.
“There’s a lot of myths about language learning and how it’s really hard to acquire, but all you have to do is start,” he said.
“It’s a really empowering process to learn and to be able to speak a language, so I encourage everyone to do it.”
As well as traditional hand signs and symbols, the app also gives Aboriginal users the opportunity to engage in conversations using emojis that look like them.
The team said every emoji was developed by local people to highlight significant icons to central Australia and to the Arrernte culture.
The Elders involved in the project wanted to include some animals that were no longer around but were still culturally significant.
“The Elders told me they wanted to promote the remembrance of these species so that people don’t forget them,” Mr Liddle said.
“Like the aherte, which is the bilby, and the akwerre which is the bandicoot … because they’re really important totemic species to this region.”
Changes to the landscape and environment have seen these animals disappear over the past century.
Graphic designer Graham Wilfred Jnr worked with the Arrernte community to design the app’s 90 emojis. (ABC News: Samantha Jonscher)
The app’s graphic designer, Graham Wilfred Jnr, said it was great to work on such an important project.
“It’s amazing to have the first Aboriginal Australian Indigenous emojis,” he said.
Out of the 90 symbols, he said his favourite to design was the ‘Land Rights’ emoji.
“I drew the famous picture of Vincent Lingiari and [former prime minister] Gough Whitlam doing the Land Rights Act, where Gough Whitlam is handing the land over, back to Vincent Lingiari,” he said.
“I drew that picture because it simplifies the rights of all Indigenous Australians.”
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