Sand stories and sign languages from Central Australia

Sand stories and sign languages from Central Australia

Language: Arandic
Depositor: Jenny Green
Location: Australia
Deposit Id: 0270
ELDP Id: IPF0173
Level: Deposit

Group represented

Language information
Arrernte, Anmatyerr, Alyawarr, and Kaytetye are languages of the Arandic sub-group. There are about 3000 speakers of the various Arandic languages in total. Warlpiri is a language of the Ngumpin-Yapa sub-group. Both sub-groups are part of the broader Pama-Nyungan language family of Australia.

Special characteristics
Sand stories from the arid lands of Central Australia are a traditional form of verbal art in which speech, sign, gesture and drawing work together. Some of the stories are children's games, some are recounts of everyday events, and others more formal stories related to ancestral country and its Dreamings. These stories begin by clearing a space on the soft ground. Between ‘scenes’ the sand space is erased before the narrator begins to draw again. In these desert communities traditional sign languages also play an important part in everyday communication. Sign may be used alongside speech or instead of it, and in some cultural circumstances sign is used to show respect. Sign is important in situations where silence is essential – for example when hunting. Sign can be used in communication between people who are at some distance from each other and out of ear-shot. This collection contains examples of sand stories and of sign language documentation from the Central Australia.

Deposit contents
This collection contains documentation of sand stories and of sign languages from Central Australia.


In process
Resources being prepared or online and partially searchable


Jenny Green
Affiliation: University of Melbourne

Deposit Statistics

Data from 2017 November 20 to 2017 November 20
Deposit hits:2
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Showing 1 - 10 of 28 Items

Recorded on: Unspecified

Recorded on: Unspecified

Keywords: Jenny Green

A short film about Central Australian sign languages. Subtitled in French

Recorded on: Unspecified

Film about sand stories and sign languages

Recorded on: Unspecified

Film about sand stories and sign languages. Subtitled in French

Recorded on: Unspecified

Recording Ngaatjatjarra signs with Elizabeth Marrkilyi Ellis

Recorded on: 2012-11-15

Recording of two sand stories by Janie Briscoe

Recorded on: 2007-09-16

Katie Kemarr demonstrating a sand story, including a hunting story and a song for making babies go to sleep.

Recorded on: 2007-07-04

Amy Ngamperle telling a sand story with leaves. Discussion of conventions for ending sand stories

Recorded on: 2007-06-25

Wiji Ampetyan's sand story. Includes alternate register speech styles.

Recorded on: 2007-06-06