Launch Of Aboriginal Language Books: Nsw & Act Handbook, Gumbaynggirr Dictionary

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10th November 2008, 02:02pm - Views: 837

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The Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Co-operative and Many Rivers Aboriginal

Language Centre publishes dictionaries, grammars and language learning materials on the

languages of NSW, particularly those of the north-eastern region. We would like to announce

the launch of three publications, funded by the NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs and

the Department of Environment Water, Heritage and the Arts, that will make a valuable

contribution to Aboriginal language research and revitalisation.

Gumbaynggirr Bijaarr Jandaygam, Ngaawa Gugaarrigam: Gumbaynggirr Dictionary

& Learner’s Grammar by Steve Morelli. Launcher Dr Diana Eades, Research

Associate, University of New England.

Barriyala: Let’s Work. Gumbaynggirr Language Student Workbooks 1, 2 & 3 by

Julie Long. Launcher Claire Mellon, Principal, St Mary’s Catholic School,


A handbook of Aboriginal Languages of New South Wales and the Australian Capital

Territory by Jim Wafer, Amanda Lissarrague and Jean Harkins. Launcher Aden

Ridgeway, Director of Indigenous Tourism Australia.

When: Tuesday, 18th November 2008 at 10:30 a.m. followed by a light lunch.

Where: Entertainment Centre, Ridge St. Nambucca Heads (next to the Post Office).

For more information or to arrange interviews please contact:

Gumbaynggirr Dictionary & Learner’s Grammar: Ken Walker or Pauline Hooler on 02

65685695, 0488126875 or 

The Handbook and Barriyala, Anna Ash, Julie Long or Michelle Stadhams on 02 6568 5696,

0404456992 or

Gumbaynggirr Bijaarr Jandaygam, Ngaawa Gugaarrigam: Gumbaynggirr Dictionary &

Learner’s Grammar

The homelands of the Gumbaynggirr lie between the Clarence and the Nambucca rivers in

northern New South Wales. The Baanbay people to the West speak the same language. As

with many Aboriginal Australian languages, Gumbaynggirr had fewer and fewer speakers

and was in danger of extinction. All that changed in 1986 when a small group of Elders took

steps to revive it, and this book is a tribute to their efforts. 

Each year more and more people relearn Gumbaynggirr. Language learning courses and

books, such as this, are an important part of a revival of the language that belongs to this

land. This dictionary builds on an earlier edition, with many revisions and improvements:

> There are now more than 2700 entries, with revised and expanded definitions.

> An easy-to-read grammar section has been created to help language learners.

> Semantic wordlists help learners to find words of similar things, such as birds,

emotions, insects or artefacts.

> A section on new words allows modern speakers to find Gumbaynggirr equivalents

for numbers, days of the week, household items and so on.

> Additional information on families shows the reader, in words and colour diagrams,

the relationship words that Gumbaynggirr people traditionally used with each other.

> Two new maps depict the Gumbaynggirr world, and several pictures complement the

word entries.

Barriyala: Let’s Work – Gumbaynggirr Language Student Workbooks 1, 2 & 3

These workbooks have been designed to support Gumbaynggirr Language learning in

primary schools. There is a separate workbook for each primary school stage, each building

on students’ prior learning. It is recommended that the workbooks be used in conjunction

with Junga-Ngarraangala Gumbaynggirr, the Gumbaynggirr Primary Language Program;

they are not intended to be stand-alone workbooks.

These workbooks provide a range of activities that will reinforce language learnt in the

classroom.  The activities are divided into eight different themes based on aspects of

Gumbaynggirr culture, with associated language tasks. Julie Long, with the support of

Muurrbay staff, presents a series of interesting and culturally appropriate language activities

that draw on her wealth of classroom experience.

Handbook of Aboriginal languages of NSW and the ACT

New South Wales was the first part of Australia to be colonised and so the written records of

the state’s Indigenous languages go back more than 200 years. The body of linguistic

information that has accumulated over that period is considerable, but it is also very uneven

in its quality and coverage. The Handbook distils this information in a way that makes it

easily accessible to a broad audience.

The Handbook combines the functions of both a guidebook and a dictionary. It runs to just

over 830 pages and is divided into two parts: the first part is a survey of the Indigenous

languages of NSW and the ACT (including Aboriginal English), giving information about

dialects, locations, maps, and resources available for language revitalisation; the second part

provides word-lists in practical spelling for 42 distinct language varieties. There is also useful

information on sign languages and kinship classification, as well as an appendix on place


The Handbook is a valuable reference and educational resource, useful to Aboriginal people

who want to revitalise their languages and to those in the broader community who simply

want to know more about the state’s rich linguistic heritage. It will be particularly helpful in

the planning and implementation of primary, secondary and tertiary educational programs

dealing with Aboriginal languages and linguistics.

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