Yolngu Sign Language: An Undocumented Language of Arnhem Land

Maypilama, Elaine and Adone, Dany (2013) Yolngu Sign Language: An Undocumented Language of Arnhem Land. Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social contexts (13). pp. 37-44. ISSN 1329-1440

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Official URL: http://www.cdu.edu.au/northern-institute/lcj


Recently there has been an increase in studies documenting the world’s languages. Most of these studies concentrate on spoken languages but there is a growing effort to document sign languages. In this short paper we describe one of the many undocumented sign languages of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory of Australia. This Indigenous sign language is known locally as Yolŋu Sign Language (YSL). Although this language is used in daily interaction, many of its users are not aware that it is a language per se. With this brief description of YSL we hope to make our readers aware of the existence of this language. Another aim of this paper is to generate some general discussion on the status of Indigenous sign languages in Arnhem Land, which we believe have become endangered. Although YSL is an endangered language there are still measures that can be taken to prevent this language disappearing.

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