It is estimated that prior to European settlement approximately 250 Indigenous languages were spoken in Australia. The Library's print resources for language material includes dictionaries, word lists and linguistic studies.
State Library of New South Wales digitised collections (Freely available eResource)
The State Library of New South Wales has digitised their collections of manuscripts which contain Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander language material as part of their Rediscovering Indigenous language project.
Our Languages (Freely available online)
Our Languages provides information about Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander language projects. As well as information on news and events, Our Languages is a key resource for information on language education programs.
The AIATSIS Pathways Thesaurus
The AIATSIS Pathways Thesaurus contains the names of many Aboriginal language groups, peoples, places and subjects. Using the Pathways Thesaurus it is possible to perform an automatic search of the AIATSIS catalogue, Mura, for language collections held by AIATSIS.
Browsing the catalogue by subject
To search for works relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, in the catalogue select the 'Browse alphabetically' option, then select 'subjects' from the drop down menu. Type the subject you wish to search for then click 'browse'.
Some examples of Browse/Subjects searches are:
Occassionally, langauges have been catalogued using the approximate geographic region or name of the language nation, group or dialect.
- Aboriginal Australians - Western Australia - Languages - Dictionaries
- English language - Dictionaries - Kurnai
Selected Print Resources
The following resources must be requested through the catalogue unless otherwise specified in the catalogue entry.
Macquarie Aboriginal Words: A Dictionary of Words from Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages (1994)
Describes characteristics of 17 Australian languages and relationship to kinship systems.
Handbook of Australian Languages (1979-2000)
Includes short grammatical sketches of Australian languages in five volumes: v. 1. Introduction, Guugu Yimidhirr, Pitta-Pitta, Gumbaynggir, Yaygir -- v. 2. Wargamay, The Mpakwithi Dialect of Anguthimri, Watjarri, Margaany and Gunya, Tasmanian -- v. 3. Djapu, A Yolngu Dialect, Yukulta, Uradhi, Nyawaygi -- v. 4. Aboriginal Language of Melbourne and Other Grammatical Sketches -- v. 5. Grammatical Sketches of Bunuba, Ndjebbana and Kugu Nganhcara. Each grammar is written in a standard format and includes a sample text (where available) and vocabulary list.
Call number: RF 499.15 H236 in the Main Reading Room Reference Collection
Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development (2002)
Surveys the way in which Aboriginal languages vary typologically and presents a profile of this long-established linguistic area. Contains an index to languages and language groups.
Aboriginal English: A Cultural Study (1996)
Demonstrates some of the ways in which Aboriginal people over the past two hundred years have made the English language their own.
Call number: RF 427.99403 A788 in the Main Reading Room Reference Collection
Australian Aboriginal Words in English: Their Origin and Meaning (1992)
Contains lists Aboriginal words used today collection from many different Aboriginal language groups.
OZBIB: A Linguistic Bibliography of Aboriginal Australia and the Torres Strait Islands (1999)
This work aims to provide a full bibliographical listing of all published material on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and linguistics, plus relevant theses and dissertations.