Language Research Discovery Workshop 2017

Language Research Discovery Workshop 2017

The week started with participants from all around Queensland gathering at South Bank for the annual Language Research Discovery workshop. We welcomed people from Cairns, Yarrabah, Mackay, Woorabinda, Gayndah, Sunshine Coast and Brisbane.

The aim of the workshop is to build upon and extend previous research workshops and enhance the research skills and knowledge of community language workers. This year we included visits to the University of Queensland – Fryer Library to explore language materials and collections that are unique to the university such as the Flint Papers.


The Flint Papers are written documents compiled and collected by the late Elwyn Flint, most of them as part of a long-term research project he carried out in the 1960s known as the Queensland Speech Survey. Flint’s interest in language variation took him all over Queensland and included languages spoken by Aboriginal people around the state and Torres Strait Islands. Some of the participants expressed that being able to access the papers and recordings will be a great help in assisting them in the conservation of their languages.

The following day we spent a few hours at the Queensland State Archives (QSA) in Runcorn exploring their collections.  QSA is the custodian of the largest and most significant documentary heritage collection in Queensland. The Queensland Government is one of the custodians of historical information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.It was agreed that the group could easily have spent the entire day researching the collections at QSA.

On our return to State Library the group explored and researched collections relating to their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language interest. We were fortunate to have two very experienced reference librarians to assist us with the research.

The week ended with discussions around consolidating and sharing research activities with their community, the future of language, and the next step in their journey. Some of the most memorable moments throughout the week was the discovery of information and documents revealing previously unknown information that related personally to a participant. In addition to researching unique language materials from State Library, Fryer Library (University of Queensland) and the Queensland State Archives, the week was a great opportunity to network and share ideas around language revival across Queensland. I think these workshops are very important in the revival and maintenance of language and feel very lucky to be involved.

Rose Warsow,

Indigenous Languages Project Officer, State Library of Queensland


State Library Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages webpages


Further Reading

Items from the State Library collections used over the week included:

Allan, J. and Lane, J. (2001) The language of the Wangerriburra and neighbouring groups in the Yugambeh region. Kombumerri Aboriginal Corporation for Culture: Beenleigh. P 499.15 all

Barlow, H. (1865) Harriet Barlow Manuscript. [Provides the basis for her work “Aboriginal Vocabularies of Queensland”.] OM91-69.

Bell, J. (1994) Dictionary of the Gubbi-Gubbi and Butchulla languages, compiled with the assistance of Amanda Seed. Jeannie Bell: Brisbane. G 499.15321 1994

Breen, J.G. (1990) Salvage Studies of Western Queensland Aboriginal Languages. Australia Pacific Linguistics Canberra. J 499.15 bre

Curr, E. M. (1887) The Australian Race: its origins, languages, customs, place of landing in Australia and the routes by which it spread itself over that continent. John Ferres Government Printer: Melbourne. RBF 572.994 cur

Desert Channels Queensland (2013) Kalkadoon Pictorial Dictionary. Desert Channels Queensland: Longreach. JUVQ 499.9915 KAL

Desert Channels Queensland (2013) Pitta Pitta Pictorial Dictionary. Desert Channels Queensland: Longreach. JUVQ 499.9915 PIT

Dixon, R. M. W. (1991) Words of our country: stories, place names and vocabulary in Yidiny, the Aboriginal language of the Cairns-Yarrabah region. St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press. G 499.15 1991

Edwards, R. (Ed) (2001) Dictionary of Torres Strait languages. Rams Skull Press: Sydney. Q 499.1503 RAY

Eipper, C. (2007) German Mission to the Aborigines at Moreton Bay, 1841. Archive CD Books. QCFS 266.02343094 2007

Helon, G. (1994) The English-Goreng Goreng-English dictionary. Gurang Land Council: Bundaberg. G 499.15 1994

Holmer, N. (1983) Linguistic Survey of South-Eastern Queensland. Australian National University: Canberra. J 499.15 HOL

Kite, S. and Wurm, S. (2004) The Duungidjawu language of southeast Queensland: grammar, texts and vocabulary: Pacific Linguistics 553. Pacific Linguistics: Canberra. J 499.15 KIT

Mathew, J. (1910) Two representative tribes of Queensland: with an inquiry concerning the origin of the Australian race. T Fisher Unwin: London. J 306.0899915 MAT

Meston, A. (undated) Archibald Meston Papers Undated. OM64-17

Mushin, I. (2012) A Grammar of (Western) Garrwa. De Gruyter: Boston. J 499.15 MUS

Sharpe, M. (2005) Grammar and texts of the Yugambeh-Bundjalung dialect chain in Eastern Australia. Lincom: Munich. Q 499.15 sha

Thancoupie (2007) Thanakupi’s guide to language and culture: a Thaynakwith dictionary. Q 305.899 THA

Wafer, J. and Lissarrague, A. (2008) A handbook of Aboriginal languages of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and culture Cooperative: Nambucca Heads, NSW. J 499.15 WAF

Watson, F. J. (1944) “Vocabularies of four representative tribes of South Eastern Queensland”; supplement to the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia (Queensland), No. 34, Vol XLVIII. REFJ 499.15 wat