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The Kaurna Language Dictionary ("Pilot")
Welcome to the Website home of the Kaurna Language Dictionary. Some time in the coming, the dictionary has now reached a stage for reviewers to comment. Any endeavour of this type requires a fair number of adjustments befor it can be published. The following pages offer an introduction into the process and principles of designing this dictionary.
For the time being, the "Pilot" versions of this dictionary are still password protected. If you as a Kaurna person, a linguist or expert in Aboriginal languages, or as an advanced student, would like to review and comment on the dictionary, please contact us to request access to these documents.
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.