Preserving Aboriginal languages
The preservation of the original languages of Queensland is the preservation of ancient cultural treasure—not just for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, not just for Queenslanders, but for everyone.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages are a very important part of the heritage of Queensland. Sadly these languages are endangered and could disappear in the next few decades.
More than 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and dialects were once spoken. Today around 50 of these remain, with less than 20 being used as first languages, predominantly in the north of the state and in the Torres Strait Islands.
There are community groups working to revive and maintain their languages, including the:
- Central Queensland Language Centre
- Korrawinga Aboriginal Corporation
- Nalingu Aboriginal Corporation
- North Queensland Regional Aboriginal Corporation Language Centre
- Yugambeh Museum Language and Heritage Research Centre
State Library of Queensland resources
- word lists
- an Indigenous languages map of Queensland
- a list of south-east Queensland traditional place names
- ideas for school communities
- Indigenous languages blog
- contemporary Indigenous digital stories
- virtual books in several languages including Butchulla, Gamilaraay, Gudjal, Gunggari and Yugambeh
- 'Telling country' - the Our Dreaming collection
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language resources
Language group maps
- Indigenous languages map of Queensland
- Rediscovering Indigenous Languages project provides digital access to Indigenous word lists, language records and other cultural documents, starting with the State Library of New South Wales' collections.
- AIATSIS/Horton Aboriginal languages map—an online/interactive map based on the work of David Horton/AIATSIS.
- Indigenous language map (ABC)—the A-Z of Indigenous language groups in Australia.
- Tindale languages map (SA Museum)—an online/interactive map based on the work of Norman Tindale.
Learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages
- The Aboriginal Languages of Australia website helps you find books and learning tools about Aboriginal languages within Australia.
- The AUSTLANG Indigenous Languages Database has collected language information from a range of sources.
- Gamilaraay Yuwaalaraay language tools—learning materials and stories.
- Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education has courses you can enrol in if you want to learn how to keep your own language strong, if you are keen to record your peoples' language, or want to gain formal qualifications in linguistics.
- Kuril dhagan is the Indigenous knowledge centre on level 1 of the State Library of Queensland. It offers a range of public programs including A Night by the Fire, Yarnin’ time, Murri Claus and exhibitions throughout the year.
- Information about Aboriginal English
- My Grandmother's Lingo is an interactive animation where you can learn about the Marra language, which comes from the remote community of Ngukurr in south-east Arnhem Land..
Programs and community groups preserving languages
- Banma Kiya is Queensland’s Indigenous Languages Advisory Committee, supporting and promoting Aboriginal and Torres Strait language programs in Queensland.
- First Languages Australia helps share news about language programs and work to preserve Aborginal and Torres Strait Islander languages in Australia.
- Miromaa Aboriginal Language and Technology Centre helps preserve Indigenous languages across the world through the use of language software for computers.
- The Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Co-operative helps support Aboriginal peoples, especially the Gumbaynggirr, in the revival and preservation of their language and culture.
- Our languages hopes to protect, preserve and help you learn the languages of Aboriginal peoples in Australia. The website also lists language centres that support programs and activities to preserve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.
- The Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages is a digital archive of literature written in Aboriginal languages from the Northern Territory, Australia.
Listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language samples
- Listen to Aboriginal language samples and watch videos of Aboriginal languages on ABC Radio program Holding our tongues.