Aussie Educator

Indigenous Languages

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that the following may contain images and voices of deceased persons.

There are more than 200 Australian Indigenous languages. Less than 20 languages are strong, and even these are endangered : the others have been destroyed, live in the memories of the elderly, or are being revived by their communities. 1

In recent years, there has been an increase in the teaching of Indigenous languages in government, Catholic & independent schools. In 2005, when 133 languages were taught in schools, 45 were Indigenous languages. A listing of most of these can be found from the research study into The State and Nature of Languages in Australian Schools. 2

By 2008 it had risen to more than 80 languages and about 29 000 students. 3 It is hoped this increases so further language loss is avoided.

This page gives access to information about Indigenous languages, resources, curriculum offerings, community sites, government sites and studies, more.

An Indigenous Language Map is found at the Australian ABC. ‘Move your mouse over the map to reveal the detail’ through a magnified circle.

Languages

Aboriginal English

Specific Languages

  • Anggargoon
    Bardi on the Web.
  • New ! Barani
    ‘There are a number of online and published resources providing background to the history and etymology of Aboriginal words and place names spoken in Sydney and NSW’.
  • New ! Barngarla Dictionary
    Apple, Free. ‘Explore and learn the language and culture of the Barngarla people anywhere in the world, for free ! Search in Barngarla and English or use our traditional search of Images’.
  • Garrwa
    ‘Australian Aboriginal language which was spoken in the Gulf of Carpentaria region close to the Northern Territory/Queensland border’. Language information, links. Fairly technical presentation.
  • Gurindji Multimedia Dictionary
    Standalone Version, Intro, Lexicon, English-Gurindji, more.
  • Jiwarli
    Overview, Dictionary, Resources.
  • Kamilaroi - Gamilaraay Dictionary
    Dictionary, thesaurus.
  • Updated ! Ngalia
    Background to the work being done in this area. For practical activities, try the Ngalia Picture Dictionary, developed in 2013.
  • Updated ! Noongar Dictionary by Rose Whitehurst
  • Pilbara Language Resources
    ‘To view information about each of the Pilbara’s languages, click on the language of your choice in the “Languages of the Pilbara” section. Here you will find an introduction to each language and, for some languages, E-Book Dictionaries and past news stories about Wangka Maya’s work’.
  • Warlpiri - Lexicon
    Download for tablet, standalone version, About Warlpiri, English-Warlpiri, more.
  • Western Australian Aboriginal Languages
    Handbook of Languages from south of the Kimberleys. Archived version.
  • New ! Wiradjuri Dictionary
    Apple, Free. ‘Explore and learn the language and culture of the Wiradjuri people anywhere in the world, for free ! Browse the dictionary by letter, categories and common phrases. Search in Wiradjuri and English or use our traditional search of images’.
  • Yolngu Resources
    Select “Resources” from the main menu. Several available - database, dictionary, keyboard, font, more.
  • Yuwaalaraay gaay Gamilaraay garay
    ‘Yaama ! Welcome to the Yuwaalaraay and Gamilaraay home page, the central site for information about the Yuwaalaraay and Gamilaraay languages of northern New South Wales. Find language learning lessons, information on pronunciation, and in the Guwaabal section there are twelve stories in Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay with transcriptions, English translations and background notes’. You can go to New ! Gayarragi, Winangali ‘an interactive multimedia resource for Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay. Free for use by individuals and Gamilaraay Yuwaalaraay organisations’.

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Government Sites

Includes schools and other educational sources. For further information at the school level, check the Indigenous Education page.

Schools

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Other Information

Organisations & Associations

AIATSIS

  • Aboriginal Studies Electronic Data Archive
    ‘Computer-based [digital] materials about Australian Indigenous languages’.
  • Austlang
    Read the information here, then go to the Main Page to access the language database.
  • Collectors of Words
    ‘These word lists are highly sought after by AIATSIS clients and are presented in this online exhibition for information and ease of access to enable further research. Further information about those who compiled the word lists is given in each section of the exhibition’.
  • New ! Databases and Indexes
    Scroll down to the language area. Other databases may also be of use.
  • New ! Indigenous Australian Languages
    Video and transcript, links to language resources, further reading and resources.
  • Languages
    AIATSIS. Provides links to Manuscripts and Books, Pictorial works and Sound.
  • Languages and their status in Aboriginal Australia
    The first chapter from abook on Aboriginal languiages and culture.
  • MURA® Collection
    ‘Connects individuals and organisations interested in Australian Indigenous languages’.
  • OZBIB
    Read the information here, then go to the Main Page to access the database.
  • Pathways Thesauri
    ‘The Pathways thesaurus is made up of three separate thesaurus headings : Australian place names, Indigenous language groups and people and subjects relating to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies’.
  • Second National Indigenous Languages Survey Report 2014
    ‘Offers key insights for governments and communities into the current situation of Australian languages, how they are being supported and how best to continue this support’.
  • New ! Australian Indigenous Language Collections
    National Library of Australia. ‘The language groups listed in this research guide are first sorted by State and Territory [although there will be some overlap], and then arranged alphabetically’.
  • Australian Society for Indigenous Languages
    Dictionaries for a number of languages, available for download or use as apps, keyboards, translation software, fonts, advocacy, submissions, more.

FATSIL

  • FATSIL
    ‘The national body for community based Indigenous language programs in Australia’. Languages, guides to community protocols, research, newsletter more.
  • Indigenous Languages Petition
    Download a copy here.
  • Language of the Month
    Archived material. Select “Languages”, “Language of the Month”, then choose the archived language desired
  • New ! First Languages Australia
    ‘Working with partners to increasing awareness of Australia’s first languages’.
  • New ! Indigenous Languages Collection
    State Library of NSW. ‘These records are vocabularies and other language material from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and date from 1788 to the 1930’s. More than 40 different language groups from all Australian states and territories have been identified in over 200 original items’.
  • Updated ! Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Co-operative
    Language courses and resources.
  • Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages
    ‘Focused on retrieving, recording, researching Aboriginal languages and providing a central resource on Victorian Aboriginal Languages with programs now looking at educational tools to teach the Indigenous community about language’. Their Links Page is worth visiting.
  • Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre
    ‘We will use our expertise, knowledge and sensitivity to record and foster Aboriginal languages, culture and history’. Programs, language, resources, translating, more. Resources has several downloads.

Other Sites

  • A School Lesson in Aboriginal language Guugu Yimidhirr
    ‘Take a class with Guugu Yimidhirr teacher, Lillian Bowen, as she teaches children in Hope Vale’. 6.44 minutes
  • Aboriginal Languages
    Information from the Central Land Council. Covers language families, Spelling; orthographies, and pronunciation; Pronouncing Aboriginal words; Bilingual education and two way schools; more..
  • Aboriginal Languages of Australia
    Annotated links to 180 resources for about 60 languages. Stories and Texts in Languages can be found here.
  • Updated ! ARDS - Language Links
    A small collection of annotated links from the Aboriginal Resource and Development Services.
  • Australian Aboriginal Language Material from the Flint Papers
    University of Queensland Library. ‘The Flint Papers Boxes which contain materials relating to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander languages or to varieties of English spoken by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people’.
  • Australian Aboriginal Languages Student Blog
    ‘A place to share anything at all that’s interesting and related to the languages of Australia. WARNING : We wish to advise that this blog may contain names, voices and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have passed away’.
  • Australian Languages
    Reference compilations, workshop information and reports, blogs, particular languages, particular linguists, some dictionaries and other resources. David Nash, ANU.
  • English : Aboriginal Language
    Recordings in English and Indigenous languages.
  • Holding Our Tongues
    ABC Radio National. ‘Holding our Tongues is a Hindsight project about the long and painful task of reviving Aboriginal languages. Click on place names on the map to listen to examples of language, watch archival video or find more information’.
  • Indigenous Australian Languages
    Common features, classification, references, links. Wikipedia.
  • Indigenous Language
    National Museum of Australia. ‘Australian English borrowed more than 400 words from some 80 Aboriginal languages’. Flash interactive area, audio files, more. Part of a larger section on the Australian language.
  • Indigenous Languages Programs in Australian Schools - A Way Forward
    2008 ACER Report. Abstract, PDF and Word files.
  • Updated ! Inquiry into language learning in Indigenous Communities
    House Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs. Information about the inquiry, Terms of reference, Submissions, Public hearings and Transcripts, Media releases, Report whole or parts].
  • Updated ! Language MAP
    Access a map of the major tribal/language groups in Indigenous Australia. Click on individual sections to zoom in on that area.
  • Updated ! Languages of Australia
    Extensive listing of languages including Indigenous languages. Title, culture, spread, levels of literacy, geographical spread, more.
  • Languages of the Australian Aborigines
    L.E. Threlkeld 1858. Copy of the original document.
  • Let’s talk … Australian voices
    Reconciliation Australia. ‘For tens of thousands of years, hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages have been spoken across Australia. Let’s talk … Australian voices and what we can do to keep them alive and strong today’.
  • List of English Words of Australian Aboriginal Origin
    Flora and fauna, environment, Aboriginal culture, describing words, place names, names, Aboriginal-sounding words. Wikipedia.
  • Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages
    ‘A digital archive of endangered texts in Aboriginal languages from around the Northern Territory’. Charles Darwin University.
  • Our Languages
    ‘Produced as a place where we can share and collaborate on activities surrounding Australia’s traditional Aboriginal languages’.
  • Some Australian Indigenous Languages you should know
    Interesting article providing an overview and a wide range of embedded links to other specific aspects. The Conversation, 2015.
  • New ! Welcome to Country
    Apple, Free. ‘Australian Indigenous Language Groups and Cultural Protocols. Version 1.0 contains more than 30 tribes and languages groups [of over 500 groups !] right across Indigenous Australia’.
  • New ! Where can I study an Australian Indigenous Language ?
    Information from the University Languages Portal of Australia.

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References

1. ed. Nathan, D, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages, Retrieved January, 2010, from Aboriginal Languages of Australia : http://www.dnathan.com/VL/index.php

2. Pandora Archive. An Investigation of the State and Nature of Languages in Australian Schools, 2008, p. 30. Retrieved 19 December, 2012, from Pandora Archive.

3. ACER, Indigenous Languages Programs in Australian Schools - A Way Forward. Retrieved 19 December, 2012, from ACEReSearch.

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