Aurukun Workshop 21-23 March 2017

This community language workshop was held in partnership with Resource Network for Linguistic Diversity (RNLD) and the Pama Language Centre (PLC). Participants were taken through some of the modules available under the Documenting and Revitalizing Indigenous Languages (DRIL) program which aims to enhance community skills to revive traditional languages.

On arriving in Aurukun we received a great welcome from the IKC Co-ordinator Priscilla Blanco and PLC linguist Louise Ashmore. The workshop venue was the Aurukun IKC which is centrally located on Kang Kang (Wik Mungkan word for ‘eagle’) Road.

Aurukun IKC.








Ebony and Andrew the RNLD trainers started the workshop with introductions and an overview of what DRIL is and how it works. This was followed by a very thoughtful discussion by the group sharing their ideas regarding languages of Aurukun and what they would like to see happen in the community.

Workshop participants.







Louise and some members of the community had recently returned from The 5th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC) in Hawaii, so were keen to continue language learning within their community. Participants learnt about the Master-Apprentice language learning methods and discussed where and how they could start making a difference in the community. The day care centre employs local language speakers and was identified as a great place to implement such a language program.

Participants working on language sounds.

Day two of the DRIL workshop saw participants learning about sounds in Wik Mungkan: how they are made, how linguists describe them, and why sounds in Wik Mungkan are written down in the way they are. On the last day of the workshop participants discussed forming language teams and how to plan a language project. A simple language project that participants were keen to implement was outlined and discussed.  It was agreed that to ensure the ongoing strength of Wik Mungkan and the survival of other Wik languages in the area, regular language projects, programs and activities needed to happen.

Lois and Priscilla looking at wordlists.

The Miromaa software program was installed in the IKC and is a great tool in the preservation of language. The program creates dictionaries with pictures, sounds and videos and allows you to print out dictionaries based upon categories (such as wildlife, body parts, plants etc.). The participants of the workshop are ready to move forward with language programs and activities in the community and I look forward in hearing some good news language stories in the future.


Rose Warsow

Indigenous Languages Project Officer, Queensland Memory.

State Library of Queensland.


Further Reading

The State Library of Queensland holds a number of collection items relating to Wik Mungkan and neighbouring languages, including the following:

27458 Aurukun Mission Records 1960-1974

Dictionary and source book of the Wik-Mungkan language compiled by Christine Kilham … <et al.> ; illustrated by Jeanie Adams, Jack Bell and Garry Namponan. G 499.15 1986

Gugu-yalanji and Wik-munkan language studies W. Oates…(et al). Q 499.15 guy 

Languages of Cape York : papers presented to the Linguistic Symposium, Part B, held in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Biennial General Meeting, May,1974. Peter Sutton (editor).  G 499.15 1976

Minh Nga’an Wichan = Catching fish told & illustrated by Venita Korkaktain. JUV A823.4 KOR

Thanakupi’s guide to language and culture : a Thaynakwith dictionary by Gloria Fletcher Thancoupie. Q 305.899 THA

Wik-Munkan primer prepared by Barbara Sayers and Christine Kilham. P 499.15 SAY