Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages in Queensland

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages represent a very important part of the heritage of Queensland and all of Australia. Languages are storehouses of cultural knowledge and tradition, but sadly these languages are endangered to the point that all of them may disappear in the next few decades. The worldwide concern with language endangerment has singled out Australia as the continent where languages are disappearing the fastest  (e.g. Nettle, Daniel and Romaine 2000, Vanishing Voices - The Extinction of the World's Languages, pg 4-5).

In Queensland, over 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and dialects were once spoken. Today around 50 of these remain spoken (in varying degrees), with less than 20 being used as first languages, predominantly in the north of the state, i.e. Cape York and the Torres Strait. There are only two Queensland languages that are classed as strong or thriving, that is over 500 community speakers across all ages. These are the Wik Mungkan group of languages on Western Cape York and Kalaw Lagaw Ya in the Torres Strait. The remaining 100 plus languages/dialects are considered 'endangered' and there is an urgent need for community language preservation.

Note: As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages are oral languages that have only been written since European settlement; there may be variations in the spellings of languages.

Languages at SLQ

An overview about the resources and workshops provided by State Library of Queensland for language centre workers covering digital recording...

Longreach and Central West Queensland

Aboriginal Language resources of Longreach and central west Queensland...

Mount Isa and North West Queensland

Aboriginal Language resources for Mount Isa and north west Queensland...

South East Queensland

Aboriginal language resources of south east Queensland...

Greater Brisbane Area

Aboriginal language resources of the Greater Brisbane area...

Toowoomba and Darling Downs

Aboriginal languages of Toowoomba and the Darling Downs...

South East Queensland placenames

South East Queensland placenames, particularly those from an Aboriginal language background...

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Resources Computer Software

A list of resources for communities, schools, libraries, etc. to acquire that can support Indigenous language revival in communities....

Ideas for public libraries

Ideas, activities and resources related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages to support Public Libraries and Indigenous Knowledge Centres...

Ideas for school communities

An Information Guide developed to support school communities in undertaking activities to promote and preserve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander...

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language websites

A selection of websites that relate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages...

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Language Resources - Maps

State Library contains a range of cartographic resources such as tribal/language maps of value to researchers interested in the Indigenous...

Torres Strait Islands

An Information Guide developed to support individuals and communities in their research into the traditional languages of the Torres Strait...

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