International Year of Indigenous Languages

The Centre is proud to support the UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages 2019. Our researchers are at the forefront of working with indigenous communities to document, preserve and revitalise the precious linguistic heritage of Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.

23 August 2019

Nen Dictionary available online

Michael Binzawa and Jimmy Nébni carving the latest dictionary tally onto the dictionary pole.

A dictionary of the Nen language of Papua New Guinea, compiled by Nicholas Evans, is now available as an online publication. With 5005 lexical entries, this is the first major dictionary of a Papuan language to appear in online format. Read more... 

20 August 2019

Video: Kunpulu (sawfish)

Sawfish rock art

Gurindji people stunned scientists with the furthest inland sightings of the highly endangered sawfish. A powerful example of Indigenous ecological knowledge and Western scientific knowledge working together, featuring Felicity Meakins. Watch it on ICTV.

14 August 2019

Ngarinyman Dictionary at Parliament House

Caroline Jones, Mikayla Friday-Shaw and Felicity Meakins

How do you make a First Nations dictionary and what benefits do they have? Ngarinyman woman Mikayla Friday-Shaw joined  Caroline Jones and Felicity Meakins to explain the at the Parliamentary Library. See more... 

8 August 2019

Mildura’s languages shine in rainbow of colour

Mildura languages team

These posters have become the most popular outcome of a collaboration with the Aboriginal community to share and discover more about the traditional languages of the region. Read more... 

30 July 2019

Video: Manyardi songs make us remember

Warruwi singers - public lecture

Traditional custodians from Warruwi community in western Arnhem Land (NT), David Manmurulu, Jenny Manmurulu, Rupert Manmurulu and Jamie Milpurr joined with researchers to present the Garrurru public lecture, centred around the Inyjalarrku ‘Mermaid’ song-set. Watch it here... 

25 July 2019

Doctorate recognises ancient wisdom of the Western Desert

Elizabeth Ellis and Gareth Evans

On 19th July, Elizabeth Marrkilyi Warnngupayi Ellis was admitted to the Doctor of Letters by The Australian National University “on the grounds of her exceptional contribution to the study of traditional Indigenous languages.” Read more...

18 July 2019

Nandiri'ba'nya – exhibition shows Language and Country through Indigenous eyes

Nandiri'ba'nya – Language and Country exhibition

The work of Centre researchers features prominently in a new exhibition celebrating the International Year of Indigenous Languages opening in Sydney next month. Read more...

12 July 2019

When Gary met Gugs… and awakened a sleeping tongue

Gary Williams and Steve Morelli

Brother Stephen ‘Gugs’ Morelli and Gary Williams go back a long way. This week their joint 30-year effort to revive the Gumbaynggirr language of the mid-north coast of NSW was recognised with the Patji-Dawes Language Teaching Award. Read more...

11 July 2019

Gunning for Gija – Patji-Dawes Award winner Sophia Mung

Sophia Mung

Sophia Mung is a humble school teacher. But  when she received the Patji-Dawes Language Teaching Award, she was asked to tell the world why it was important to keep her mother tongue Gija strong – and she delivered. Read more...

5 July 2019

Ngarinyman Dictionary launched

Ngarinyman Dictionary launch group

The first dictionary for Ngarinyman, a language of central-western Northern Territory, has been launched by Rachel Perkins at the 2019 AIATSIS Research Conference this week, and is the result of a 25-year collaboration between 30 community members and seven linguists. Read more...

28 June 2019

Video: Studying the vernacular in the vernacular – Luqa literacy in the Solomon Islands

Alpheaus Zobule giving public lecture

In this public lecture, Dr Alpheaus Graham Zobule takes the audience on the fascinating 20-year journey of the Kulu Language Institute in the Solomon Islands, which he founded and continues to direct. Watch here...

3 June 2019

Mother tongue

Elizabeth Ellis

A chance find of a language fragment buried in archives of a family farm sheds light on a forgotten Indigenous language. Jane Faure-Brac reports on how the find is emblematic of the United Nation’s Year of Indigenous Languages. Read more...

31 May 2019

Indigenous language teachers win Patji-Dawes Award

Steve Morelli and Gary Williams at book launch

Two teachers of Australian Indigenous languages are the joint winners of the Patji-Dawes Award – Australia’s premier award for achievement in teaching languages other than English. Read more...

21 May 2019

Gurindji sign language films win ICTV award

Takataka ICTV award recipients

The Gurindji Takataka sign language project has taken out the 2019 ICTV (Indigenous Community Television) Video Award for Best Language Film. Find out more...

18 May 2019

Video: The genius of Australian Indigenous languages (public lecture)

Rachel Nordlinger delivering public lecture

On 6 February, Professor Rachel Nordlinger, one of the country’s foremost experts on Australian Indigenous languages, explained their unique importance to an audience of hundreds. Watch here...

8 May 2019

New book on Murrinhpatha questions concept of the ‘word’

Nguvudirr Jeramiah Tunmuck and John Mansfield

Murrinhpatha Morphology and Phonology is the culmination of eight years' work on one of the world's most complex and fascintaing languages by Dr John Mansfield. Read more...

2 May 2019

Moli det Bigibigi rides into Australian Reading Hour

Karen Manbulloo at Sydney Opera House

Karen Manbulloo, author of Moli det bigibigi (Moli the pig) has been named as a Child Ambassador for this year’s Australian Reading Hour. Read more...

15 April 2019

The 14 Indigenous words for money on our new 50 cent coin

Indigenous languages 50 cent coin

The coin, developed in consultation with Indigenous language custodian groups, features 14 different words for 'money' from Australian Indigenous languages. Felicity Meakins and Michael Walsh ask where these words came from. Read more...

2 April 2019

Video: The ‘ecology’ of deaf sign languages in PNG

PNG deaf sign language seminar

In this seminar, Lauren Reed, Alan Rumsey and local advisor John Onga outline their work documenting these barely studied languages and present one fascinatng case study from the Western Highliands. See more...

27 March 2019

The ABCs of language revival

Gamilaraay 'alphabet' poster

When Hilary Smith began working with the Gamilaraay people of northern NSW on the revival of their language, she quickly hit upon an  stumbling block: strong interest, but low confidence. Bringing a language to life is as tricky as A,B,C. Find out more...

25 March 2019

Aboriginal Australia’s smash hit that went viral

Wajarra singers

The Wanji-wanji song has travelled thousands of kms over 150 years. Follow the journey with our researchers Myfany Turpin, Brenda Croft, Felicity Meakins and ClintBracknell in The Conversation. Read more...

21 March 2019

Technology yarning

i-tjuma ipad still

Tjinytjatjunku tjuma is the ancient art of telling stories while drawing in the sand. Now, thanks to iPads, storytellers of all generations can share their tales with the world while drawing on the screen. Read more...

13 February 2019

PhD opportunities in Indigenous Language Technologies 

Grant Thompson with Opie

Develop tech at the University of Queensland for under-resourced Australian languages through machine learning, social robotics, apps, co-design projects with communities and educational games. Apply by 10 March. Learn more...  

30 January 2019

Preserving the Kunwinjku language of West Arnhem Land

Cathy Bow and Seraine Namundja

The Charles Darwin University (CDU) and the Australian National University (ANU)  have launched the first university-level course teaching Kunwinjku - an endangered Aboriginal language spoken by the Bininj people of West Arnhem Land in northern Australia. Read more...

24 January 2019

Fishing up a huge surprise: tracing ancient sawfish with Indigenous knowledge

Sawfish rock art site

Could the ocean-dwelling sawfish swim 500km inland? The CSIRO's Double Helix magazine investigates an ancient mystery using Inigenous knowledge and Western science. Read more... 

22 January 2019

The state of Australia's Indigenous languages – and how we can help people speak them more often

Tindale's map of Aboriginal tribes

In 60 years’ time only 13 of Australia’s languages will be left unless something is done now to encourage Indigenous children to keep speaking their language, and to encourage children from other language groups to start speaking their heritage languages. Jane Simpson writes in The Conversation. Read more...

2 January 2019

Takataka: Gurindji Sign Language videos

Gurindji sign language video

Jenny Green and Felicity Meakins have collaborated with Cassandra Algy and other Gurindji people, and the Karungkarni Art and Culture Aboriginal Corporation, to produce 15 short videos demonstrating signs for people, places, artefacts and actions. Watch them on ICTV...

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University