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NORTHERN TERRITORY UNIVERSITY YOLNGU LANGUAGE IN DEGREE COURSE | Yolngu, Courses, Arnhemland, Islander, Torres, Aboriginal, Strait, Community | FATSILC, Fed. Aboriginal Torres Strait Island Languages
A co-operative effort between University staff and community members has seen exciting progress in the study of Yolngu languages at N.T.U. Students are now able to take units in the language as part of the Bachelor Degree Course in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, or if preferred the Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate courses.

In 1994 Dr. Michael Christie began to negotiate with Yolngu in Arnhemland to gain permission for Yolngu lan¬guages and culture to be taught. He was also keen to discuss guidelines for the planning of courses and materials. Dr. Christie had by this time more than twenty years experience in the areas of Yolngu education and languages.

Of central concern to the new Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies was deciding which of the many Yolngu languages should be taught, and how permission should be obtained. A group of five senior Yolngu advisers to the NTU was formed, and these people, as well as various community groups were consulted in 1994, during visits to the three major Yolngu communities in Arnhemland.

Consultation spread to community councils, health centres, bible translation centres and schools in all Yolngu communities. The advisers agreed that a central understanding of Yolngu life that needed to be communicated would be the diversity of languages in the region. The networks of interrelatedness within this diversity, which parallelled a pattern of land ownership and kin¬ship, were the lifegiving force for Yolngu social relations. Students would need to learn how the two moieties, Dhuwa and Yirritja, were always interdependant, one always the mother of the other, as yothu-yindi.

With the appointment of two Yolngu lecturers, Waymamb a Gaykamangu and Garngulkpuy to the Faculty, University staff and advisers have seen the courses up and running in 1996. Units covering language and culture are backed up by others dealing with the history and current situation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. For those who have shared the extensive preparation, the work begins in earnest.


Yolgnu people live in the northeastern areas of Arnhemland and speak a large number of related languages.

The Faculty has collected hundreds of books in more than 15 Yolgnu languages. These have been recorded by image scanning on to a CD.

Work is underway to publish over 100 lessons in Gupapuyngu grammar, originally written in 1960 for the Methodist mission. Due to be published and on sale in mid 1996.

A computer dictionary data base is being developed and work continuing towards external study courses.