Language can connect one to their identity and to their culture. Fighting the risk of extinction, many Indigenous languages have been immortalised in dictionaries, the newest of which sees the ancestral languages of the Tweed and Logan River areas of New South Wales and Queensland recorded.

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), published the Gurgun Mibinyah dictionary Monday.

“I am thrilled that the Mibiny people now have this dictionary, which will provide great support to their language revitalisation and cultural resurgence,” said AIATSIS CEO, Craig Ritchie.

“In fact, all Australians will be able to deepen their understanding of the Tweed and Logan River regions by reading Gurgun Mibinyah.”

The dictionary, titled Gurgun Mibinyah: Yugambeh, Ngarahngwal, Ngahnduwal A dictionary and grammar of Mibiny language varieties from the Tweed to the Logan rivers, works to revive culture and language within the Mibiny Peoples.

Gurgun Mibinyah translates to ‘words of the Mibiny’ in English. It contains English translations, example sentences and a section dedicated to information about flora and fauna.

Gurgun Mibinyah is compiled and edited by linguist Dr Margaret Sharpe.

“Dictionaries such as this one, relying in large part on older written sources, many by people who could not fully hear sounds that differed from the sounds of English, has at times to rely on intelligent guesses on pronunciation and remembered words from descendants of past speakers, guided by the audio recordings,” Dr Sharpe said.

“However, there will always be some who will disagree with my choices in some words, especially from some who have had a particular spelling or pronunciation handed down to them. Such debates are healthy for language revitalisation.”

The dictionary is a resource for those interested in the local language and heritage living in the Tweed and Logan River regions.

Yugambeh, Ngarahngwal and Ngahnduwal languages are recorded in the dictionary. These are northern varieties of the Yugambeh-Bundjalung, or Bandjalangic language.

These varieties are spoken from the Tweed River area of the northeast corner of NSW to the Logan River area in the Gold Coast area of southern Queensland.

Other dialects of this language exist down to the Clarence River, and west to Allora and Warwick.

Gurgun Mibinyah: Yugambeh, Ngarahngwal, Ngahnduwal A dictionary and grammar of Mibiny language varieties from the Tweed to the Logan rivers is published by AIATSIS’ publishing arm, Aboriginal Studies Press and is available to purchase online.

By Rachael Knowles