Tag: taboo


Children in Yuendumu, NT

Children in Yuendumu, NT

English is now Australia’s most commonly used language, but there are also still dozens of indigenous Australian languages that are native tongues for many people living Down Under.
And many indigenous Australian languages have for tens of thousands of years used sign language as well, the most famous example being that used in the Warlpiri language used in the remote central Australian desert, centering on the community of Yuendumu.
Including the Warlpiri, these sign languages are often the result of taboo practices, where custom forbids certain members of tribes speaking to other members. The sign languages developed as an alternative to verbal communication.
A bilingual English-Warlpiri sign in central Australia.

A bilingual English-Warlpiri sign in central Australia.

Many Warlpiri speakers and other indigenous Australians maintain their traditional lifestyles even today, ensuring these sign languages are retained even as their languages are threatened by the dominance of English.
Warlpiri and other northern Australian indigenous languages have strongly influenced the area’s use of a form of Auslan, the Australian Sign Language that targets the hearing impaired.

Manyu-Wana, a Children’s Program in Warlpiri