Indigenous languages

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visitors are kindly advised that this website includes images, sounds and names of people who have passed.

All users should be aware that some topics or historical content may be culturally sensitive, offensive or distressing, and that some images may contain nudity or are of people not yet identified. Certain words, terms or descriptions may reflect the author's/creator's attitude or that of the period in which they were written, but are now considered inappropriate in today's context.

Key to library resources

Access anywhere with a library card In the Library (or anywhere with a Library card for NSW residents)
Available to access in the library Only in the Library
Publicly available online Publicly available

About this guide

Welcome to the Indigenous languages research guide

Please read the special care notice before entering the website.


Deceased persons
Visitors should be aware that the Indigenous Languages Research Guide may contain images or documentation relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are deceased.

About the word lists and vocabularies
This Research Guide is not intended to be an authoritative source for Indigenous Languages in Australia. The language lists available from the State Library of New South Wales were recorded historically by many individuals — both amateurs and professionals — who documented Indigenous words, place names and meanings. This includes records from explorers, surveyors, first settlers, missionaries, anthropologists and linguists.

Visitors to this Research Guide should be aware that the language documentation may not reflect current understandings of the use of some languages. Some lists may also record words and meanings inaccurately.

This Research Guide will change over time as more documentation becomes available. We encourage users to share their knowledge and information they may have about language of their areas.

Users are warned that there may be words and descriptions which may be considered sensitive and/or offensive in today's contexts.

Getting started

Are you researching Indigenous languages or looking to find out more? Use this guide to find language resources online and at the State Library of New South Wales. 

Indigenous services at the State Library of New South Wales

Three people standing in front of a wall

Indigenous Engagement team (pictured above) at the State Library of New South Wales partner with Indigenous communities to share and celebrate stories of Indigenous Australia.