Indigenous Words To Feature On New 50 Cent Coin

The Royal Australian Mint has released a new 50 cent coin that features 14 Indigenous words.

The coin was released on Tuesday in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) to celebrate the International Year Of Indigenous Languages.

The coins are a celebration of Australia's "unique and diverse" Indigenous languages said Mint CEO Ross MacDiarmid.

"We hope the coins will serve as a tangible reminder of the important efforts being undertaken to preserve, protect and revitalise Indigenous languages in Australia," he said.

There are over 250 Indigenous languages in Australia, and the ones used on the coin represent just a small number of these.

As there was no money system before European colonisation, items such as pearl shells, quartz or food was traded.

Over time however, Indigenous languages needed to expand to include references to money, University of Queensland Felicity Meakins explained in The Conversation.

The new 50 cent coin, which is currently in circulation.

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Fourteen language groups were consulted around the country, and most of the words translate to 'stone', which was extended by these languages to mean money as well, but there are three exceptions on the coin.

The words 'ngkweltye', from Kaytetye and spoken in Central Australia, and 'pirrki' from Kaurna in Adelaide, both translate to 'piece', which has been extended to mean money as well.

Gathang, in Central NSW, uses the word 'dhinggarr', which also means 'grey', but was possibly extended to mean money in reference to the colour of coins.

“Indigenous languages carry more meaning than the words themselves, so too does currency carry meaning beyond its monetary value," said AIATSIS CEO and Co-Chair of the UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages Steering Committee Craig Ritchie.

"The release of these coins is another milestone in recognising the diverse cultures that shape our national story of over 60,000 years.”

While the coin is in circulation, a frosted uncirculated version is available for $10 and a fine silver proof version is available for $80.