He Speaks Our Language

    He Speaks Our Language

    Rob Douglas

    ISBN 9780992519278

    LIST PRICE: $19.99


    He Speaks Our Language is the biography of Wilfrid Henry Douglas, a veteran linguist and missionary to Aboriginal people in Australia for more than 60 years. Wilf is the father of the author, Rob Douglas. The book is based on memoirs written by Wilf prior to his death in March 2004.

    The book traces the journey of Wilf from his childhood in Belfast, Northern Ireland and his transportation to a children’s home, Fairbridge, in rural Western Australia as a 12-year-old, never to see his parents again. Experiences at Fairbridge affected Wilf later in life when he was responsible for closing down Aboriginal children’s homes at Sunday Island in the far north of Western Australia and at Warburton Ranges in the desert.

    Exciting stories are told of Wilf and his Aboriginal colleague paddling across dangerous whirlpools in a dinghy in huge tides in the saltwater country in the north of Western Australia, to weeks stranded in the central Australian desert waiting for repairs to a broken down truck.

    The biography belongs as much of the many Aboriginal people who contributed to Wilf’s life as it his own story. People like the sinewy Bardi man who accompanied him on his whirlpool nightmare, the fox-hunter who taught Wilf his first Aboriginal word on a dusty road in the West Australian wheatbelt, and the desert man who sat with him for many hours sharing his language and culture. It also includes more well known people such as Ernie Dingo and Albert Namatjira. Wilf contributed significantly to the knowledge of Aboriginal languages across Australia, and to the translation of the Bible into a number of Aboriginal languages. But the story traces the way in which he faced the odds in learning Aboriginal languages when missions didn’t think this was necessary, listening to the stories of Aboriginal people when others wanted to evangelise without listening. It is a story of courage and hope.

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