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Aboriginal Languages: Resources

A starting point for discovering Aboriginal language resources in the State Library

Learn Kaurna with Jack Buckskin

Online resources

The Mobile Language Team (University of Adelaide) website aims to provide information, contact details and answers to questions relating to the Aboriginal languages of the state of South Australia.

AUSTLANG: Australian Indigenous Languages Database (inc. Ozbib)

First Languages Australia network also on Facebook.

AV Material

Buckskin, 2013. Jack Buckskin’s mission is to teach the Kaurna language, the language of his ancestors, to as many people as he can in his lifetime.

Talking language with Ernie Dingo, 2013. Series exploring the revival, maintenance and creation of Australian languages.

General resources

Getting started

The State Library has a strong collection of South Australian language materials. Search on, or look for the word 'language' in the subject heading eg. Kokatha language, Kaurna language.

Library guides for individual South Australian communities will include a selection of relevant language materials. eg. Narungga language materials.

For languages from communities outside of South Australia, search the Library Catalogue using the subject headings Australian Languages and Aboriginal Australians Languages with a location keyword, or conduct a keyword search on the language group you are looking for.

When searching for language information remember that language groups may have multiple spellings.

If you are unsure of the language spoken in a specific location, use the resources available on the Maps of Aboriginal Australia page.

Aird, Michael. I know a few words: talking about aboriginal languages, 1996.

Amery, Rob. Warrabarna Kaurna! : reclaiming an Australian language, 2000.

Amery, Rob and Nash, Joshua (eds). Warra wiltaniappendi = Strengthening languages : proceedings of the inaugural Indigenous Languages Conference..., 2007.

Blake, Barry. Australian aboriginal grammar, 1987.

Blake, Barry. Australian Aboriginal languages: a general introduction, 1991.

Dixon, RMW and Blake, Barry (eds). Handbook of Australian languages, 1979-2000.

Foster, Robert, Monaghan, Paul and Mühlhäusler, Peter. Early forms of aboriginal English in South Australia, 1840s-1920s, 2003.

Henderson, John and Nash, David. Culture and heritage : indigenous languages, 1997.

Kendon, Adam, Sign languages of Aboriginal Australia: cultural, semiotic and communicative perspectives, 1988.

Language and culture: a matter of survival: report of the inquiry into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language maintenance, 1994.

National Indigenous languages survey report 2005. The second survey report Community, identity, wellbeing: the report of the Second National Indigenous Languages Survey (2014) is at AIATSIS or from Researchgate.

Roberts-Thompson, Peter. Australian Aboriginal languages : an annotated selection of old and rare publications, 2017.

Schmidt, Annette. The loss of Australia's Aboriginal language heritage, 1990.

Thieberger, Nick and McGregor, William (eds). Macquarie Aboriginal words : a dictionary of words from Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, 1994.

Walsh, Michael and Yallup, Colin (eds). Language and culture in Aboriginal Australia, 1993.


The State Library has a number of electronic resources that are useful for finding articles relating to Aboriginal languages. Some of these resources can only be accessed within the library and others can also be accessed from home by becoming a Home Access User. Relevant resources include:

Australian/New Zealand Reference centre  Newspaper and magazine articles from the recent past

Australian Public Affairs Full Text General periodical index

Trove website provides word searchable access to historical Australian newspapers, mostly prior to 1955