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 found at AIATSIS.
- Aboriginal English
Diana Eades, UNE. Background, vocabulary, sounds, some grammatical features, pragmatics, resources.
- Australian Aboriginal English
Phonology, grammar, lexicon, references, links. Wikipedia.
- First Languages Australia - Timeline and Knowledgebank
‘Jarrak is a public knowledge bank which captures key milestones for strengthening Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages from the 1970s until now. Jarrak includes a timeline and searchable database, with links to documentary and audio-visual evidence of achievements made in four areas : policy, education, language centres and resources. This site is best viewed using Chrome or Firefox browser’.
- Modern Aboriginal Language
Creole, Aboriginal English.
Bardi on the Web.
‘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’.
Android, 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’.
- Bininj Kunwok Online Dictionary
‘This dictionary was developed by the Bininj Kunwok Regional Language Centre for Charles Darwin University’ s Kunwinjku Language course. The search bar looks for both Bininj Kunwok and English terms as well as dialect variations. Click on a word to open the full entry. It’ s still a work in progress, and you can't always find a direct translation for words, and different words have different ranges of meaning in Bininj Kunwok and English’. There are also related books [both free and fee-based] available here.
‘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.
Overview, Dictionary, Resources.
- Guwaabal 1 - Bigibila wiyayl/The
Echidna’ s Spines
‘In the right-hand column the story is broken down into individual sentences. The first line is in Yuwaalaraay, the third is an English ‘free’ translation. The second line is an ‘interlinear’ translation; it shows the various parts of each Yuwaalaraay word (verb, noun, suffix etc). By examining this line you can see how words and sentences are built in Yuwaalaraay’. Listen continuously or sentence by sentence.
- Brolga Yulugi Gamilaraay
Brolga Dance. Introduction in English with the video presentation of the dance using Gamilaraay.
[AIATSIS Collection BETA]
Part of Austlang. Links include several short videos such as Give me five in Gamilaraay, Count to 10 in Gomeroi, Near or Far, and Yaama Ghubhii : Connect Song. Documentation lists also available.
- Gamilaraay Language, Alphabet and Pronunciation
Alphabet chart, sample texts, links to other sources, information on the Pama-Nyungan languages group.
- Gayarragi, Winangali : Find and hear
‘An interactive multimedia resource for Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay, Australia [see pop-up maps]. Originally produced as a CD-ROM but is also available as a downloadable app (about 190MB, for Windows and MacOS)’.
- Kamilaroi - A Nations
Links and Suggested Readings. A compilation by Abbotsleigh School. Includes Suggested Movies and Audio Visual Files, Notable Websites, Web Links and Journals for further information [by category, including language].
- Kamilaroi - Gamilaraay
- Kamilaroi Language
Video presentation using the language by Jason Archer.
- Kamilaroi Translation
- Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages
‘A digital archive of endangered texts in Aboriginal languages of the Northern Territory. This is a living archive, with connections to the people and communities where the books were created’. Their page For teachers is useful, while their Map page shows language areas and language centres.
Background to the work being done in this area. For practical activities, try the Ngalia Picture Dictionary, developed in 2013.
- Noongar Dictionary by Rose Whitehurst
- Palawa Kani
‘The palawa kani Program was among the first in the country in which Aboriginal people ourselves learnt the necessary linguistic methods which have since enabled us to do all the retrieval work on our language. Palawa kani means ‘Tasmanian Aborigines speak’; it is the only Aboriginal language in lutruwita [Tasmania] today’.
- Pilbara Language
‘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.
- Wiradjuri Dictionary
Apple, Android 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’.
- 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 Gayarragi, Winangali ‘an interactive multimedia resource for Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay. Free for use by individuals and Gamilaraay Yuwaalaraay organisations’.
Includes schools and other educational sources. For further information at the school level, check the Indigenous Education page.
- Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Languages — Resource guide
‘The following list is a selection of websites that relate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and are useful starting points for schools and communities. These websites may include ideas, resources and other materials relating to the documentation, preservation or teaching and learning of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages’. QCAA
- Aboriginal Language
and Culture Nests
‘The Aboriginal Language and Culture Nests operate within participating schools to provide Aboriginal students and their families with a continuous pathway of learning, from preschool to Year 12 and into tertiary education’. A Fact Sheet about these is available here.
- Aboriginal Languages of Western Australia
Curriculum Council WA. Details of the syllabus. Documents available.
R–10 Languages [Australian Indigenous] Teaching Resource [SACSA]
‘Written by junior primary, primary and secondary teachers with the support of, and in collaboration with. policy and program officers’.
- Effective Teaching
and Learning Strategies
‘This resource guide lists strategies that have proved successful in the teaching and learning of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. It has been adapted from several sources, including international settings’. QCAA
Languages of Victoria : Revival and Reclamation
Senior Studies in Victoria. Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority.
Language, Culture and Communities
‘Homepage for Aboriginal languages. Please use the right-hand menu to navigate this section’. Department of Education, NSW
- Mapping Aboriginal Perspectives and Cross-curriculum Content
Covers multiple topics and all levels. NSW.
- NSW Aboriginal Languages Map
Shows the various languages and areas where these are spoken.
- Rediscovering Indigenous Languages
‘The Rediscovering Indigenous Languages project aims to make accessible the rich archival collections of the State Library of New South Wales. The site features historic word lists, records and other documents relating to Indigenous Australian languages’.
- DECCW Aboriginal Languages Policy
NSW Environment & Heritage. Download a copy from the site.
- Indigenous Languages - A National Approach
Abstract, access to full-text.
Languages and Arts Program
Department of Communications and the Arts. ‘The Indigenous Languages and Arts program supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to revive and maintain languages, and to develop and present art’.
Organisations & Associations
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Word Lists [State Library Of Queensland]
‘These pages include a number of word lists on various topics to support communities in their work to revive, document and preserve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. The language content is drawn from a range of historical texts found in State Library’s collections’. Part of a larger site on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages.
- Australian Aboriginal On-line Television
Extensive listing of video snippets. Among these are not only lessons for multiple languages, but also commentary, arts information, more. Now back with access to a wide range of videos.
- Aboriginal Studies Electronic Data Archive
‘Computer-based [digital] materials about Australian Indigenous languages’.
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’.
- Databases and Indexes
Scroll down to the language area. Other databases may also be of use.
- Indigenous Australian
Video and transcript, links to language resources, further reading and resources.
AIATSIS. Provides links to Manuscripts and Books, Pictorial works and Sound.
- Languages and their status in Aboriginal
The first chapter from a book on Aboriginal languages and culture.
‘Connects individuals and organisations interested in Australian Indigenous languages’.
- Australian Indigenous Language
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.
- First Languages Australia
‘Working with partners to increasing awareness of Australia’s first languages’.
- 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’.
- Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Co-operative
Language courses and resources.
Narragunnawali - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages
‘Through learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, students and children can gain deeper knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and identities. Providing students and children with opportunities to learn – and learn about – Australia’ First Languages also plays an important role in supporting language maintenance and revitalisation.’. There is a wide range of Curriculum Resources available here. They can also be used in other curriculum areas.
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’.
- 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.
There are numerous programs or parts of programs dealing with Indigenous languages on both radio and television. Several are listed below.
- 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 Language [BTN]
‘In the Northern Territory, there’s a fight over which languages are used to teach kids in school. Aboriginal communities are worried that new government rules could destroy their culture. But the government reckons it will be better for kids in the long run. Kirsty has the story’.
- Indigenous Language Lessons
‘The town of Broome in Western Australia is pushing to become the first bilingual town in Australia by teaching all kids Yawuru, the local indigenous language. Even the town's street signs are now in both Yawuru and English. We checked in with one school there to find out more’.
- Local Languages [BTN]
‘As Tash reports, Australia has hundreds of Indigenous languages and some people are worried that if we don’t keep teaching them they could eventually disappear’.
- Word Up
Radio National. ‘Word Up shares the diverse languages of black Australia from Anmatyerre to Arrernte, from Bidjara to Bundjalung, from Nyungar to Ngaanyatjarra, from Yankunytjatjara to Yorta Yorta—one word at a time’.
Guide To Australia’ s Indigenous Languages
‘There are literally hundreds of dialects unique to each corner of this mammoth continent that have been spoken for tens of thousands of years — and have survived despite the enormous threat posed by British colonisation. Read on for a basic introduction to Australia’ s incredibly diverse Indigenous languages’.
- 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. Equally importantly, you can access 38 [at time of inclusion] Indigenous language Dictionaries using this link.
- ARDS - Language Links
A small collection of annotated links from the Aboriginal Resource and Development Services.
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.
- Indigenous Australian Languages
Common features, classification, references, links. Wikipedia.
- Indigenous Languages Programs in Australian
Schools - A Way Forward
2008 ACER Report. Abstract, PDF and Word files.
- 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].
- Language MAP
Access a map of the major tribal/language groups in Indigenous Australia. Click on individual sections to zoom in on that area.
- Languages of Australia
Extensive listing of languages including Indigenous languages. Title, culture, spread, levels of literacy, geographical spread, more.
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.
- 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.
- Songlines : Tracking
the Seven Sisters
National Museum of Australia. ‘Explore the languages of Australia’ s first peoples and how words that often defy translation into English carry knowledge, culture and a way of being in the world’. This is one of several items. Audio and transcript available.
- Tribal & Language Database
‘On-line database on Australian Aboriginal tribes, nations, languages, dialectal groups’. Multiple search methods.
- Welcome to
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’.
- Where can I study an Australian
Indigenous Language ?
Information from the University Languages Portal of Australia.
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.