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Dhanggati people (Dhanggati is the language of the Macleay Valley) and linguists are well served by a new 205 page reference book on the language.

Lissarrague, Amanda. 2007. Dhanggati grammar and dictionary. Nambucca Heads: Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Cooperative 14 Bellwood Road, Nambucca Heads NSW 2448.

It's another Muurrbay product (in 2006 they published a reference book on the Hunter River language by Lissarrague) which really justifies the funding from the Maintenance of Indigenous Languages and Records programme, now housed in the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.

It's been designed to meet the needs of the Dhanggati people for a reference book. It contains a grammar, texts, Dhanggati-English, English-Dhanggati, and topical dictionary of Dhanggati (including a list of English words adopted by Dhanggati speakers). Just the kind of material that's essential for Dhanggati people wanting to re-learn and re-build their language.

To this end, the material is presented in a single recommended spelling system without the kinds of sourcing that a philologically minded linguist would like (i.e. with the exception of the texts, there's no indication of the source of the illustrative sentences and language information, or of original spellings, unless they are crucial to the discussion ). But, to compensate, Lissarrague notes that the material is available in a Shoebox database to Dhanggati people and scholars. This is pretty terrific.

Likewise, the Dhanggati speakers who worked with early recorders are proudly in the front of the book - their names, their initiation degree, sections and totems where known, followed by some early photographs of Dhanggati people. There's much less on the early recorders themselves (who include Gerhardt Laves, Nils Holmer [pdf], William Hoddinot and Janet Bolt). Again, linguists can track that down through the bibliography.

So, good one, Amanda and Muurrbay!

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