Warlpiri Dictionary Published!

The Warlpiri Encyclopedic Dictionary, which has been over 60 years in the making, has now been published by Aboriginal Studies Press.  With over 1,400 pages, the volume includes “English translations for Warlpiri words, instructive example sentences that include Warlpiri history and cultural practices, detailed information about flora and fauna, more than 500 illustrations, maps of Warlpiri Country, a guide to Warlpiri grammar and a guide to the complex vocabulary of family relationships.”  Work on the dictionary was begun by the late Ken Hale, with Mary Laughren then taking on the role of chief compiler.  Several department members played specific roles in the project, as noted in the acknowledgements:

  • Beth Levin, who was Laughren’s colleague on the MIT Lexicon Project when the very first entries were published in the project’s working paper series in 1986 (covering body parts, flora, and manufacture—see the photo below!), is thanked for showing “how to make best use of the computational resources that became available from 1983.”
  • Chris Manning is thanked for his “Kirrkirr application for viewing the Warlpiri Dictionary on a computer” and “for his contribution to the final checking of the dictionary database”; he describes his role in this Twitter thread.
  • Nay San is thanked for his contribution to “the emergence of the dictionary from the lexical database in the form of a marked-up text file.”

The original version of  one section of the dictionary as published in 1986.