Deceptive language that disguises the truth surrounding Indigenous Australia

deceptive language

There are many examples of deceptive language that can be heard throughout Australian society as well as in the media. These words and terms are minimising the truth about Indigenous history in Australia.

Language can also be used to project assimilation on to non-assimilated people. You may well be using these insidious terms without even realising it. If you have other similar types of words that you hate to hear, let us know in the comments below and we will add them to the list.

Generation – A generation is generally accepted to be not more than 30 years and nowadays we label each decade as a generation. So why is it that most people label an 80 year period of government sanctioned theft of Indigenous children as a single generation? Please add the s when talking about the stolen generations and please remind others when you hear it being said.

Missions – This is a term we were all raised with, so we’re all guilty of it. When I look at the definition of a mission, it points me to a religious camp or religious station. But our people were not allowed to leave these so called missions. The correct term should be concentration camp.

Discovered – The idea that Australia was discovered by British is flawed in so many way. But still today we keep hearing this term popping up in the media & politics. There is currently a push to remove the word discovered from the statue of captain cook in Sydney.

Settlement – Settlement is another deceptive word used commonly today. Was Australia unsettled before British invasion? We had and are still fighting to maintain a finely tuned way of life that continues withstand the test of time.

Using the past tense – Describing beliefs, customs and languages in the past tense when they are still practiced in the present day. This would have to be the most common mistake made in the media and it also has a flow on effect to the larger society. Some say that this is intentional, we’ll let you be the judge on that. By referring to things in the past tense effectively means that it no longer exists today. Here is an example of a government education website that uses the past tense to describe songlines. Can you spot the use of past tenses? We found another example from Australian Geographic who describe traditional medicine completely in the past tense.

I have a few more examples but I’m going to hold back and see if there are any other more prominently used words suggested in the comments below.



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