AIATSIS Promotes Language Conservation With Release Of Warlpiri Encyclopaedic Dictionary

AIATSIS Promotes Language Conservation With Release Of Warlpiri Encyclopaedic Dictionary

With six decades of linguistic accumulation, the Warlpiri Encyclopaedic Dictionary, 'Warlpiri yimi-kirli manu jaru-kurlu', is a detailed compilation documenting the intricacies and etymologies of Warlpiri language for generations to come.

The 1400-page dictionary deciphers the language discernible in the Warlpiri triangle of Northern Territory. It not only translates Warlpiri words into English, but offers a lexicon of cultural practices and a comprehensive guide to Warlpiri grammar and intricate family ties. The volume also illuminates the Warlpiri's native flora and fauna, with over 500 illustrations and maps.

Warlpiri yimi-kirli manu jaru-kurlu's creation is attributed to the collaboration of hundreds of Warlpiri speakers and respected researchers. Initially, recordings from linguist Kenneth Hale drove the project, with substantial contributions from Mickey Jupurrurla Connell, Sam Japangardi Johnson, Paddy Jupurrurla Stuart and Stephen Japangardi Simpson, among others. These recordings are at the core of the dictionary's entries. Integral to the dictionary’s completion is chief compiler, Mary Laughren, who started learning and documenting Warlpiri in 1975. Other primary compilers were Jeannie Nungarrayi Egan and Marlurrku Paddy Patrick Jangala, utilising their expertise in Warlpiri language to provide comprehensive definitions and applications of words.

Image: National Indigenous Times

Craig Ritchie from AIATSIS (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies) said, "Language is central to strengthening the cultures, identities, and wellbeing of First Nations peoples. The Warlpiri Encyclopaedic Dictionary is an outstanding example of what can be achieved." (National Indigenous Times. July 2023). The dictionary, released through Aboriginal Studies Press, serves as an invaluable resource and an embodiment of persistent language revitalisation.