26 September 2023

Landmark dictionary digs Indigenous words

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The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) has produced a landmark First Nations dictionary of Warlpiri words.

Chief Executive of AIATSIS, Craig Ritchie said the Warlpiri Encyclopaedic Dictionary: Warlpiri Yimi-Kirli Manu Jaru-kurlu represented more than a century of cross-disciplinary work, compiled over more than 60 years by hundreds of Warlpiri speakers.

Mr Ritchie said Warlpiri was spoken in and around the ‘Warlpiri Triangle’, which extends from Willowra to Nyirrpi and Lajamanu in the Tanami Desert area of the Northern Territory, and in communities elsewhere.

“A monumental single volume with over 1,400 pages, the Warlpiri Encyclopaedic Dictionary: Warlpiri Yimi-Kirli Manu Jaru-kurlu will keep Warlpiri language strong, supported and flourishing,” Mr Ritchie said.

“The dictionary includes the English translations for Warlpiri words, instructive example sentences that include Warlpiri history and cultural practices, detailed information about flora and fauna, more than 500 illustrations, maps of Warlpiri Country, a guide to Warlpiri grammar and a guide to the complex vocabulary of family relationships.”

He said support for language preservation and revitalisation was essential work for AIATSIS.

“Language is central to strengthening the cultures, identities, and wellbeing of First Nations peoples,” the CEO said.

“As part of our contribution to advancing languages, AIATSIS funds the publication of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language dictionaries,” he said.

“The Warlpiri Encyclopaedic Dictionary is an outstanding example of what can be achieved in terms of documenting a language and making available material to help it to thrive – today and into the future.

“Decades in compilation, the dictionary is an unmatched and comprehensive resource for use by Warlpiri speakers, language students, and those who value cultures and the history of those cultures.”

Mr Ritchie said the dictionary was released by AIATSIS’s publishing arm, Aboriginal Studies Press.

Further information on the Warlpiri Encyclopaedic Dictionary can be accessed at this PS News link.

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