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​​​​​​​Dhurga language revival bolstered by new dictionary

The dedicated work by siblings Patricia Ellis, Kerry Boyenga and Waine Donovan on the Dhurga language has reached a major milestone, with the publication of the Dhurga Dictionary and Learners Grammar. The new book was launched officially at the Moruya Library today by renowned, Jackie French AM Author, Historian, Ecologist.

Dhurga language is one of the languages of the Yuin Nation, spoken on the South Coast and Southern Tablelands of New South Wales. It covers the area south of Nowra to Narooma and west to Braidwood and Araluen.

Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) CEO Craig Ritchie says the dictionary is a long-awaited resource for the Dhurga speaking people of Yuin Country and will be a valuable book for any person wanting to learn the traditional language.

“The community have worked tirelessly over many years to develop the Dhurga Dictionary and we are proud at AIATSIS to be able to help it reach publication.

“The dictionary is a boost for the teaching and Dhurga language revitalisation work already happening with the community and schools on the NSW South Coast. It will serve as an invaluable resource for many years to come.”

Patricia, Kerry and Waine have spent the past 20 years teaching Dhurga language in schools and have over 80 years of collective experience working in the education sector. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the siblings, linguists and a dedicated community the revival of the Dhurga language has allowed for speakers young and old to embrace the traditional language previously considered endangered.

The new publication is the most concise compilation of the Dhurga language to date with over 730 words, as well as informant and recorder details to validate authenticity. The dictionary is the first of its kind, designed to be user-friendly for all literacy levels and readers.

Dhurga Dictionary and Learners Grammar was published through the Indigenous Languages Preservation: Dictionaries Project, run by AIATSIS and funded by the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA).

The dictionary can now be ordered through the publishing arm of AIATSIS, Aboriginal Studies Press.