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Dictionary aims to help preserve Indigenous language

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 9 November 2004

Linguists in the Pilbara, in north-west Western Australia, have taken steps to preserve one of the rarest languages in the world.

The Aboriginal language Putijarra originates in the Western Desert region and is spoken by just four people in communities such as Jigalong and Yandeyarra.

The Wangka Maya Aboriginal Language Centre has now compiled a 100-page Putijarra dictionary and grammar guide, from stories told by local speakers.

Language centre manager Fran Haintz says the year-long project is crucial to preserving local Indigenous knowledge.

"Language is integral to culture, so if we record the language and try and keep the information strong and the stories, the generations that follow can continue to listen to those stories and through the use of dictionaries and so on understand what's going on and hopefully...[the] language and the culture is stronger," she said.

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