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This online Yolŋu Matha dictionary is for students and researchers of Yolŋu
languages and culture, both Yolŋu and Balanda.  There are many Yolŋu languages, and most of them are represented in this dictionary.

David Zorc printed a Yolŋu Matha dictionary in 1986 when he was working with Yolŋu at Batchelor College.  Michael Christie and Waymamba Gaykamaŋu decided that a computer CD dictionary would help Yolŋu Studies students and researchers, provide a way of helping Yolŋu extend the existing dictionary database and help Yolŋu maintain control over dictionary content. 

In 2001 Michael and Waymamba received permission from the advisers to the Charles Darwin University Yolŋu Studies program (Djuwandayŋu, Banyawarra, Raymattja, Djirrimbiḻpiḻwuy, and Ṉirrpurandji) to develop a trial dictionary, and from David Zorc to use his database.  David Nathan, who worked on computers, dictionaries and linguistics at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in Canberra, took David Zorc’s word list and developed a computer database to hold all the information. Waymamba, Yiŋiya, Ganyinurru and John Greatorex all helped with feedback on how the dictionary found and displayed information.

In the development of the CD version more words were been added by Michael Christie, Waymamba Gaykamaŋu and John Greatorex. The names of Yolŋu and Balanda who contributed to the original list of more than 8000 entries can be found in the list of abbreviations. 

Since the CD dictionary was made, computers and Unicode font provisions for Yolŋu orthographies have changed and there has been a growing demand for a centralised digital version.  In 2014 we received a CDU Innovations grant to develop a Yolŋu Matha Online Dictionary in conjunction with software developer Steve Denney.  This online, searchable and extendable Yolŋu Matha dictionary is expected to greatly enhance the study resources for students and researchers of Yolŋu languages.  The addition of new data is immediately accessible after moderation and approval by Yolŋu Studies lecturers.

There are still thousands of words that haven’t been recorded.  You can add more words to the dictionary and amend existing entries through the Add Word button.  You may also find words which you believe should not be in the dictionary, if you find such words let us know so they can be removed.  Please contact us if you have suggestions about how we could improve the dictionary at yolngustudies@cdu.edu.au

Remember: The words in this dictionary are the Intellectual Property of Yolŋu people.

John Greatorex

October 2014