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Researcher building online Yolngu language dictionary

By Leanne Coleman

Yolngu studies lecturer John Greatorex said the dictionary would be integrated into the existing Yolngu studies resources at CDU Yolngu studies lecturer John Greatorex said the dictionary would be integrated into the existing Yolngu studies resources at CDU

A Charles Darwin University researcher is working to produce the first online searchable and extendable Yolngu Matha (Languages) dictionary as a tool for students, Yolngu language workers and the Yolngu community.

Yolngu studies lecturer John Greatorex said the dictionary would be integrated into the existing Yolngu studies resources at CDU.

“The dictionary will be interactive and searchable by multiple means, with potential to be linked to parsing and translation software and will greatly enhance the study resources for students and researchers of Yolngu languages,” Mr Greatorex said.

He said the project would also update the existing dictionary produced by David Zorc in the 1980s at the School for Australian Linguistics at Batchelor Institute.

“As the Yolngu languages courses attract more international and cross-institutional students, the need for a good on-line dictionary resource is increasing,” he said. “This dictionary will be designed to support online study by both internal and external students from remote, regional and international contexts.”

Mr Greatorex and the team would collaborate with Yolngu elders connected to Yolngu studies to revamp the existing work that would be available alongside the interactive Yolngu studies website and database.

“A major problem with the existing resources including the CD and hard copy dictionary is that few new words have been added since its first production,” he said.

“This online dictionary will be extensible, with the addition of new data immediately accessible after moderation and approval by Yolngu studies lecturers. This will greatly enhance the research collaborations between Yolngu language speakers and non-Yolngu students and researchers.”

He said the dictionary would be another important step towards establishing CDU’s place as a national leader in the teaching of Indigenous languages and cultures.

The project is supported by an Innovation@CDU grant.

For more information about Yolngu studies visit W: cdu.edu.au/yolngu