2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages: Word of the Week - Week Thirty-Four.

As part of State Library's commitment to the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages, we will be promoting a 'word of the week' from one of the 125+ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and dialects from across Queensland.

State Library's IYIL2019 Word of the Week: Week 34.

To coincide with Book Week 2019, Week 34's word is biibabiiba , from the Yuwaalaraay language of South-West Queensland and North-West NSW. It is new word derived from Aboriginal English meaning ‘book'. Biiba refers to 'paper'; biibabiiba signifies 'many papers' and is used for 'book' as well as 'newspaper'.

Gamilaraay, Yuwaalaraay, Yuwaalayaay Dictionary. J499.1503 GAM

This week's word is sourced from the Gamilaraay, Yuwaalaraay, Yuwaalayaay Dictionary published in 2003. Yuwaalaraay was spoken along the Queensland-NSW border, including Lightning Ridge, Angledool and Hebel extending south towards Walgett and up the Moonie River into South-West Queensland.

Lexical entry for biiba. Gamilaraay, Yuwaalaraay, Yuwaalayaay Dictionary.

Yuwaalaraay is also known as Juwalarai, Ualarai, Wolleri, etc. and is closely related to the neighbouring languages of Gamilaraay and Yuwaalayaay. Linguistic research indicates Yuwaalaraay is spoken by less than 20 people in the community and classed as critically endangered; it is one of the languages supported by the Walgett Language Program.

CBCA Book Week 2019 banner.

Book Week is a time to celebrate Australian books, authors and illustrators with many schools hosting events and activities. The week also announces the Book of the Year in the respective categories - several Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander themed books appear on the shortlist.

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books - 2019 Shortlist.

Our Birds, which includes Yolngu language from the Northern Territory, as well as Sorry Day have been nominated for the Eve Pownall Award for Information Books.

Amra Niighi Laenae: The boys go walkabout. JUV499.15 KEN

Children's books are a great way to explore Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. Plans are well underway for Jarjum Stories, a language exhibition to be held from October 2019 in the kuril dhagun Exhibition Showcase. Contemporary authors such as Gregg Dreise, Narelle McRobbie, Sally Morgan, Boori Pryor alongside community storytellers will be celebrated through the exhibition.

Who's that Jumbun in the log? JUVQ A823.3 M'RO 

Jarjum Stories will open 19 October 2019 and run until 10 May 2020. State Library will offer a range of activities and programming events in conjunction with the exhibition. One of the highlights will be a school-community created book in partnership with Gregg Dreise, author of Silly Birds and other popular children's stories!

Silly Birds by Gregg Dreise. JUV A823.4 DRE

Join the conversation as we post a new word for each week!

Week Thirty-Four 20-26 August 2019.

#IYIL2019 #IYIL #IY2019WordoftheWeek #SLQIndigenousLanguages

Desmond Crump

Indigenous Languages Coordinator, State Library of Queensland

State Library of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Webpages

State Library of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Map

Jarjum stories: A kuril dhagun showcase focusing on children’s books and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. Opens 19 October 2019.

Spoken: celebrating Queensland languages: A major exhibition exploring the survival and revival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages throughout Queensland. Join in the many talks and events to celebrate the rich and diverse languages spoken today. Opens 21 November 2019.

UN IY2019 Links

UN International Year of Indigenous Languages webpages

UN International Year of Indigenous Languages Resources


The word of the week has been sourced from the following items in the State Library collections.

Source:  Ash, A., Giacon, J. and Lissarrague, A. (2003) Gamilaraay, Yuwaalaraay, Yuwaalayaay Dictionary. J 499.1503 GAM

Further Reading

Other materials in the State Library collections relating to Yuwaalaraay and neighbouring languages include the following:

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

Duncan, B. and White, H. (2014)  Speaking our way : a collection of Aboriginal languages of the Northern Tablelands of NSW J 499.15 SPE

Giacon, J. (1999) Yuwaalaraay/Gamilaraay Wordlist. P 499.1503 yuw

Giacon, J. and Sim, I. (1998) Yuwaalayaay, the language of the Narran River. P 499.15 yuw

Holmer, N. (1983) Linguistic Survey of South-Eastern QueenslandJ 499.15 HOL

Ridley, W. (1875) 2nd edn, Kamilaroi and other Australian Languages. Q 499.15 rid

Tindale, N. B. (1974) Aboriginal tribes of Australia: their terrain, environmental controls, distribution, limits and proper names. Q 994.0049915 tin

Wafer, J. and Lissarrague, A. (2008) A handbook of Aboriginal languages of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. J 499.15 WAF

Children's Books

There is a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children's stories and literature; the following is a selection:

Cape Treasures: Children from Cape York Share Stories.

Dreise, G. (2014) Silly Birds. JUV A823.4 DRE

Jack, P. (2014) Turtle and wallaby : Barun ban Garnjin. Told by Phil Jack; illustrated by Year 2 students at Mornington Island State School. JUV 299.9215 JAC

Kennedy, V. (2017) Amra Niighi Laenae : the boys go walkabout. JUV499.15 KEN

McRobbie, N. (1996) Who's that Jumbun in the log?JUVQ A823.3 M'RO 


CBCA Book Week 2019


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