Home based recording studio for sign language, Gail Woods and Lizzie Ellis on the right.

Lizzie Ellis reviews her recording footage.

Today the iltyem-iltyem project extended its range into the Western Desert language Ngaanyatjarra, spoken around Tjukurla (on the WA side of the border between NT and WA). Lizzie Ellis, Gail Woods and Margaret Carew recorded sign language and co-speech for kinship terms, animals, actions and some interactions. We worked in an impromptu recording studio in Margaret’s lounge room, as Lizzie is spending some time in Alice Springs on her way back to Tjukurla from her travels overseas.


Our first observations are that the Ngaanyatjarra based signs are quite different from those used by speakers of Anmatyerr, Warlpiri and Kaytetye. Most of the kinship terms are different, but there are closer parallels with signs for actions. Lizzie emphasised the importance of facial expressions used to express emotions and empathy between interlocutors, and recorded a number of utterances which provide examples of these. Stay tuned for some clips! 

We expect to do some more Ngaanyatjarra and Pitjanytjatjara sessions over the next week or so  – hopefully some with two signers, to get a look at some interactionally based signing. The Ngaanyatjarra material is destined for the website, which will go public early in 2013.