Back to listing

Centre celebrates International Day of Sign Languages with the Mudburra to English Dictionary

Date: 23 September 2019

In celebration of the UN International Day of Sign Languages, CoEDL is highlighting the ‘Mudburra to English Dictionary’, which is the first dictionary of an Australian Indigenous language to include an extensive section dedicated to handsigns. The dictionary, which is published by Aboriginal Studies Press, has photos and QR code links to 170 videos of Mudburra handsigns called ‘marndamarnda’, which is also the word for ‘hand’. The dictionary will be released in November, but this is a sneak preview of some signs in the dictionary.

The UN General Assembly has proclaimed 23 September as the International Day of Sign Languages to recognise the importance of preserving sign languages as part of linguistic and cultural diversity. As well as being home to an estimated original 300+ spoken languages, Australian Indigenous peoples also have rich traditions of signing. Sign is sometimes used with speech, but is also used to replace it. For example, sign is useful when people are hunting and silence is required, and sign is used when people are communicating at a distance.

Sign language for various birds

Image credit: Aboriginal Studies Press

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