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Posted on 07 December, 2016 in Resources

Plain English Legal Dictionary launch

The ARDS Language Services team celebrated a big milestone last Monday 27th April at the launch of the Plain English Legal Dictionary: Northern Territory Criminal Law.

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The Plain English Legal Dictionary contains 298 definitions which demystify common ‘legalese’ for people entering the courts and criminal justice system. Outgoing ARDS CEO Chris Marshall called it a “game changer” in effective communication between Yolŋu and the law. Legal professionals and educators have welcomed this publication, and we expect that this new dictionary will be a hot topic at the ‘Language and the Law’ conference in August.

The launch was held at the Aboriginal Interpreter Service (AIS) office in Darwin city, and it was attended by representatives of ARDS, North Australia Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA), AIS, and others working in courts and law in the Top End. All three organisations worked closely to complete this resource, which was funded by the Law Society Public Purposes Trust. Our Language Services team hope that the dictionary will serve two purposes: legal practice and education, and future translation into Indigenous languages.

Yirriṉiṉba Dhurrkay and Howard Amery have been hard at work translating the Legal Dictionary into Djambarrpuyŋu – one of the most widely spoken languages in northeast Arnhem Land. This translation follows many years of work with Yolŋu in legal interpreting and education, and the language work has received funding from the Australian Government’s Indigenous Language Support program. This translated version, Dhuwal Wäyukpuy-Rom Dhäruk Mala ga Mayali’ is nearing completion, and Howard said, “We are really looking forward to more dialogue with Yolŋu leaders, elders and young people about the workings of the NT Criminal Justice system and Australian Law through the use of this resource.”

We acknowledge the demand for more plain english legal resources in civil law, also for other jurisdictions, and in other traditional languages. We’re proud to be part of this movement toward greater understanding through partnerships and resource production.

(L-R): Priscilla Collins (NAAJA CEO), Colleen Rosas (AIS CEO), Chris Marshall (ARDS CEO)

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