Indigenous sign languages protected in online dictionary

Indigenous sign languages protected in online dictionary

A University of Melbourne researcher has helped develop the first online dictionary of sign languages used by Indigenous communities across central Australia.

The dictionary includes several hundred videos of hand-signs and other sign-actions used by Anmatyerr speakers from Ti Tree in the Northern Territory, and by the Ngaanyatjarra people in the Western Desert of Western Australia.

Dr Jenny Green—from the University of Melbourne's Research Unit for Indigenous Language —said signing was a crucial but endangered style of communication in Indigenous communities.

"Sign is used in various contexts. In some communities sign is used as a respectful form of communication to replace speech during times of mourning. Sign is used when hunting, and when people are at a long distance from each other," she said.

"For some hearing-impaired individuals sign may be the primary form of communication.

"This new web-dictionary includes traditional signs as well as signs for modern things, and will safeguard the practice for ."

Indigenous sign languages protected in online dictionary

The website is named Iltyem-iltyem, which means 'signalling with hands' in the Anmatyerr language. It was developed in collaboration with the Indigenous communities and from the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education (NT).

The team spent several years in Indigenous communities across central Australia researching and recording sign language.

"This website should prove a valuable resource for people who want to teach and learn Central Australian sign languages," Dr Green said.

"It will also help people learn spoken language, as many of the video clips contain sign language and speech together."


Explore further

Language by mouth and by hand

Citation: Indigenous sign languages protected in online dictionary (2013, September 12) retrieved 21 April 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2013-09-indigenous-languages-online-dictionary.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
0 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more