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The Kaurna Language Dictionary (forthcoming)
Welcome to the Website home of the Kaurna Language Dictionary - a work in progress.
Please note that proofing, amendments and formatting are still ongoing so it does contain errors.
The finalised Kaurna Language Dictionary will be published by Wakefield Press later this year.
The pilot work for this project was funded by the Commonwealth Government through the Indigenous Languages Support (ILS) Program which now comes under Indigenous Arts and Languages.
The Kaurna Language and People
Kaurna is the name used to refer to the language of the Aboriginal people who occupied the Adelaide Plains and surrounding districts prior to European colonisation. Although the name ‘Kaurna’ was not used at that time, it is the name which most Kaurna people use to identify themselves today.
The arrival of Europeans had devastating consequences for Kaurna people. They suffered from population decline due to introduced diseases and the kidnapping of women, loss of access to their homelands, depletion of game animals for food and the contamination of important water sources like Karrawirra Pari (the Torrens River). Eventually the new colonial government began removing Kaurna children from their families and sending them to residential schools far away.
By the 1860’s most Kaurna people were living outside of their traditional homelands, and were no longer using their language. It was not until the 1980’s, as Kaurna people who had moved back into the Adelaide area began to reassert their unique identity that the language started to be learned and used again.
Today Kaurna is spoken and studied at various skill levels by both Kaurna and non-Kaurna people throughout Kaurna country, and is used in many public settings such as dance performances and Welcome to Country speeches. We hope that this dictionary will be a useful contribution to the ongoing revival of this beautiful and precious language.