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The Analysis of Golpa Stories

Landing page image for the collection "The Analysis of Golpa Stories"

The translation team is working on a recording of Harry Djingulul Gaṉḏaŋu made in the 1960s by Bernhard Schebeck. Photo of Barripaŋ Gaṉḏaŋu, Trevor Gurrundjiwuy Gurruwiwi, Jewe Kabisch, Jane Garrutju Gaṉḏaŋu and Juliane Kabisch-Lindenlaub by Maria Garaŋarriwuy Gurruwiwi. Click on image to access collection.

Language Golpa
Depositor Juliane Kabisch-Lindenlaub
Affiliation Doctoral student at Leipzig University, Germany
Location Australia
Collection ID 0139
Grant ID SG0106
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle


Summary of the collection

The aim of the project was to produce an annotated and illustrated Golpa story book about the Golpa people, their land and culture. Golpa is a severely endangered Yolŋu language (Yirritja moiety) spoken on Elcho Island, Northern Territory, Australia. Most stories in the book are part of a huge collection of audio recordings made back in the 1960s by Bernhard Schebeck. The narrator of these texts is the father of the very few remaining Golpa clan members who still speak and understand the language to a considerable extend. Until this project these texts had never been processed. The recordings reveal and document linguistic and cultural knowledge about a dying Australian indigenous group which is now accessible to the community as well as to researchers. The collection also contains recordings from current speakers. This project was the first attempt to document and describe the Golpa language and culture.


Group represented

Golpa (Yolngu group)


Language information

Golpa is a Yolŋu language and thus belongs to the Pama-Nyungan language family. Within the Yolŋu language bloc it is counted among the Nhaŋu varieties.


Special characteristics

This work is the first attempt to document and describe the Golpa language and culture.


Collection contents

The collection mainly consists of analyzed Golpa stories. Seven of them are part of the “Golpa story book”: They are about Golpa clan history, the Golpa’s ancestral ties to the Wessel Islands and to Elcho Island, about hunting, the locations of water holes and about various Yolŋu languages. One story is about Djingulul’s last trip to the Wessel Islands, his birth place.
The texts not included in the “Golpa story book” are descriptions of maps, pictures and videos, re-tellings of a story in a children’s book, a narration concerning a childhood memory, a (Christian) prayer and a worship song.

(Golpa texts are represented by the standard Yolŋu orthography which was introduced by the missionary Beulah Lowe in the 1960s.)


Collection history

The “Golpa story book” contains seven texts. Five of them were recorded by the linguist Bernhard Schebeck in 1966 and stored with AIATSIS in Canberra, Australia. The speaker was Djingulul, the father of Juliane Kabisch-Lindenlaub’s three main Golpa consultants. The other two texts stem from Muthali/Barripaŋ (the last fluent Golpa speaker): One was written down in 1987 by a (now deceased) Warramiri lady during a Yolŋu workshop (Batchelor College, NT). The other text was recorded by Juliane Kabisch-Lindenlaub in 2011.


Other information

The dictionary and the story book can be consulted online in the following link:


Acknowledgement and citation

To refer to any data from the collection, please cite as follows:

Kabisch-Lindenlaub, Juliane. 2012. The Analysis of Golpa Stories. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

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