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Alyawarr dictionary makes a comeback

Indigenous Languages, IYIL, Shape

Date: 20 November 2019

It has been more than 25 years since the first Alyawarr to English Dictionary was compiled by Centre Affiliate and Postdoc Jenny Green (IAD Press, 1992). On the 8th of November the release of a new, updated and substantially revised second edition was celebrated at Arlparra, in the Utopia homelands.

Compiled by Jennifer Green, David Blackman and David Moore with over 100 Alyawarr contributors, the new edition is a 442-page volume that includes an additional 1000 entries and 2500 example sentences. Jenny explains that it also includes explanations of Alyawarr grammar and pronunciation, a guide for using the dictionary, and tables of pronouns and word endings.

“We’ve included a discussion of Alyawarr kinship, an updated index of scientific terms for plants and animals, and an extensive English to Alyawarr finder list,” she says. “We hope this new edition will help to keep the Alyawarr language strong and be used as a resource by Alyawarr speakers who want to become literate in their language, by learners of the language, and by educators and interpreters.”

Lilly Morton, Lucky Morton, Michael La Flamme (IAD Press), David Moore, The Hon Warren Snowdon MP and Jennifer Green, as the Alyawarr dictionary cake is cut. 
Lilly Morton, Lucky Morton, Michael La Flamme (IAD Press), David Moore, The Hon Warren Snowdon MP and Jennifer Green, as the Alyawarr dictionary cake is cut.

Warren Snowdon, federal Member for Lingiari, launched the dictionary and then attended a forum where local school staff and community members discussed ways to make the Alyawarr language a core part of the Arlparra High School curriculum. Two days earlier, a copy of the dictionary was presented to Ken Wyatt, Minister for Indigenous Australians, after an event at Amperlatwaty that celebrated the handback of land in the Sandover region to the Alyawarr Traditional Owners.

Nigel Morton and Gilbert Corbett present Ken Wyatt, Minister for Indigenous Australians, with an Alyawarr dictionary. 
Nigel Morton and Gilbert Corbett present The Hon Ken Wyatt MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians, with an Alyawarr dictionary.

David Moore, co-compiler of the dictionary, points out that the Alyawarr Language has very few resources compared to other languages in Central Australia. “It has been disadvantaged since there are no bilingual school programs in the ten Alyawarr schools, therefore few resources have been made,” David says. His colleague and fellow compiler David Blackman adds: “A quality dictionary such as this one also gives the Alyawarr language status alongside English as one of the official languages in its region.”

The Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies awarded the Institute for Aboriginal Development (IAD) funds to begin work on the second edition and supported the final production of the dictionary, as part of the Australian Indigenous Languages Dictionaries Project. CoEDL also provided support. A digital version of the Alywarr dictionary is also available from the webiste of the Australian Society for Indigenous Languages.  

 

[Main image: Lilly Morton and Lucky Morton with the Alyawarr dictionaries, old and new.]


Alyawarr to English Dictionary cover

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