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One of the largest Australian Aboriginal language dictionaries ever published shortlisted for national award

Callan Morse -

The decades-in-the-making Warlpiri Encyclopaedic Dictionary has been shortlisted for the 2023 Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIAs) in the Small Publishers' Adult Book of the Year category.

The dictionary preserves the Warlpiri language of the Tanami Desert area of the Northern Territory.

With hundreds of Warlpiri speakers from the main Warlpiri communities of Yuendumu, Willowra, Lajamanu, Nyirrpi and Alekarenge contributing to the publication, the dictionary is more than 60 years in the making.

Published in December 2022, the contains Warlpiri words with English translations, instructive example sentences rich with Warlpiri history and culture, detailed flora and fauna information, more than 500 illustrations including colour photographs and maps of Warlpiri country.

The Warlpiri Encyclopaedic Dictionary is shortlisted for the Australian Book Industry Awards' Small Publishers' Adult Book of the Year. (Image: AIATSIS).

The more than 1400 page text also includes an English word finder, a guide to Warlpiri grammar and thee complex vocabulary for Warlpiri family relations.

The Warlpiri Encyclopaedic Dictionary is jointly authored by seven Warlpiri speakers, including Mary Laughren, who began learning and documenting Warlpiri in 1975 when she was posted to Yuendumu as a linguist and

Kenneth Hale, an American linguist who first came to Australia in 1959, documenting approximately 70 Australian Indigenous languages.

The dictionary is considered an essential for both beginner and advanced speakers of Warlpiri, translators, interpreters, and anyone interested in learning more about the Warlpiri language and culture.

Warlpiri peoples' Country is northwest of Alice Springs in the Tanami Desert. (Image: Google)

The ABIAs showcase the best talent in the business, with exceptional collaborations between publishers, authors, editors, illustrators, marketers, and designers who bring quality books to Australian and international markets.

The winners of the 2023 ABIAs will be announced at the red-carpet ABIA ceremony, to be held on Thursday 25 May at Doltone House (Darling Island) in Sydney.

The Warlpiri Encyclopaedic Dictionary is published by Aboriginal Studies Press, the publishing arm of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.

It is available to purchase from the Aboriginal Studies Press online bookshop.

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