Massive expansion of Indigenous Australian languages on the web

The Australian Society for Indigenous Linguistics (AuSIL) has done a wonderful thing. They’ve put on the web:

  • dictionaries of Australian languages that SIL staff worked on with speakers [currently: Burrara, Iwaidja, Warlpiri, Tiwi, Wik Mungkan, Walmajarri, Martu Wangka, Yinjibarndi, Kriol]
  • bibles that SIL teams have translated, linking to the Bible site [so far Burrara, Djambarrpuyngu, Kala Lagaw Ya, Kriol, Wik-Mungkan, Yumplatok]
  • scans of the many working papers SIL staff have published over the year, ranging from WP-A-1 Five papers in Australian Phonologies to WP-B-14 Adha Gar Tidi: Cultural sensitivity in Western Torres Strait.

AND they have the media releases etc from their advocacy work, as in their dedicated and comprehensive advocacy for mother tongue medium education.



  1. Wamut says:

    Good stuff.

    It’s interesting – it seems as though the relationship between SIL and academic linguistics is quite healthy in Australia rather than the stories I heard in America where SIL was made out to be cultish and anecdoates of acrimony in the field (e.g. Sth America) between SIL people and researchers as well as local people. Glad that AUSIL genuinely cares about languages and language communities that they are no longer particularly concerned about providing bible translations for.

    One small addendum – the Kriol dictionary they list is actually just a link to Jason Lee’s work on the Kriol web dictionary, hosted by ASEDA/AIATSIS. (Was that an AIATSIS funded project?)

  2. Claire says:

    Wäwa, I wonder if some of the tensions that have plagued SIL in North and South America were avoided because AuSIL wasn’t (as far as I know) converting souls directly, rather they were working with groups which already had converted or at least had some mission experience. Therefore they a) tended to recruit fewer people of the type who want to save souls to the exclusion of working with language, and b) they therefore had better working relationships with other language support people, because there wasn’t the same conflict about motives that often comes up in other parts of the world. But this is just me guessing.

  3. Wamut says:

    Sounds like a reasonable assumption.

    So this means you’ve also detected differences between how Australian linguists and American linguists perceive SIL’s work?

  4. Ruth says:

    This page features a photo of Rosemary Urabadi and Nancy Ngalmindjalmag of Warruwi Community (Goulburn Island) working on their innovative bible translation project. One translates a section of the Djambarrpuyngu bible into Mawng while the other translates the same section of the Kunwinjku bible into Mawng and then they work on the two Mawng versions to come up with a new one. The aim is to come up with a more complex version than earlier translations which used very simple language.

Leave a Reply