|Linguistic classification||One of the world's primary language families|
Nyulnyulan languages (purple), among other non-Pama-Nyungan languages (grey)
The Nyulnyulan languages are a small family of closely related Australian Aboriginal languages spoken in northern Western Australia. Most languages in this family are extinct, with only 3 extant languages, all of which are almost extinct.
A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestral language or parental language, called the proto-language of that family. The term "family" reflects the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a biological family tree, or in a subsequent modification, to species in a phylogenetic tree of evolutionary taxonomy. Linguists therefore describe the daughter languages within a language family as being genetically related.
The Australian Aboriginal languages consist of around 290–363 languages belonging to an estimated 28 language families and isolates, spoken by Aboriginal Australians of mainland Australia and a few nearby islands. The relationships between these languages are not clear at present. Despite this uncertainty, the Indigenous Australian languages are collectively covered by the technical term "Australian languages", or the "Australian family".
Western Australia is a state occupying the entire western third of Australia. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, and the Southern Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east, and South Australia to the south-east. Western Australia is Australia's largest state, with a total land area of 2,529,875 square kilometres, and the second-largest country subdivision in the world, surpassed only by Russia's Sakha Republic. The state has about 2.6 million inhabitants – around 11 percent of the national total – of whom the vast majority live in the south-west corner, 79 per cent of the population living in the Perth area, leaving the remainder of the state sparsely populated.
The languages form two branches established on the basis of lexical and morphological innovation.
The Pama–Nyungan languages are the most widespread family of Australian Aboriginal languages, containing perhaps 300 languages. The name "Pama–Nyungan" is derived from the names of the two most widely separated groups, the Pama languages of the northeast and the Nyungan languages of the southwest. The words pama and nyunga mean "man" in their respective languages.
The Wilson River language is an Australian Aboriginal language of the Karnic family. It was spoken by several peoples along the Wilson River in Queensland. Of these, the Wangkumara and Galali may have migrated from the Bulloo River and abandoned their language when they arrived.
Macro-Pama–Nyungan is an Australian language family proposed in 1997 that links the two largest language families in Australia, the Pama–Nyungan family, which covers seven-eighths of the continent, and Macro-Gunwinyguan, the principal family of Arnhem Land in northern Australia.
Giimbiyu is an extinct Aboriginal Australian language isolate once spoken by the Giimbiyu people of northern Australia.
Bardi is an endangered Australian Aboriginal language in the Nyulnyulan family. It is spoken in Northwestern Australia, on the Dampier peninsula and neighboring islands. Fewer than 10 speakers of Bardi remain alive today. Before European settlement at the end of the nineteenth century, the population size is estimated to have been ~1500 people, with essentially the entire community speaking Bardi. Since then, the ethnic population has increased in number, but is essentially monolingual in English today. That said, many middle-aged people can still understand the language, and some of them can speak it to a limited degree.
Wunambal, or Northern Worrorran, is a moribund Australian Aboriginal language of Western Australia. It is a language that is often grouped alongside Worrorran and Ungarinyin, as they are from the same Northern Kimberley Division. Other names include Jeidji, Jeithi, Unambal, Wumnabal, Wunambullu, Yeidji, Yeithi.
Malak-Malak, also known as Ngolak-Wonga (Nguluwongga), is an Australian Aboriginal language spoken by the Mulluk-Mulluk people. Malakmalak is nearly extinct, with children growing up speaking Kriol or English instead. The language is spoken in the Daly River area around Woolianna and Nauiyu. The Kuwema or Tyaraity (Tyeraty) variety is distinct.
Nyulnyul is an extinct Australian Aboriginal language, formerly spoken by the Nyulnyul people of Western Australia.
Murrinh-patha, called Garama by the Jaminjung, is an Australian Aboriginal language spoken by over 2,500 people, most of whom live in Wadeye in the Northern Territory, where it is the dominant language of the community. It is spoken by the Murrinh-Patha people, as well as several other peoples whose languages are extinct or nearly so, including the Mati Ke and Marri-Djabin.
Jawi or Djawi is a nearly extinct dialect of the Bardi language of Western Australia, the traditional language of the Djaui. There are no longer any known fluent speakers, but there may be some partial speakers.
The Ngarnji (Ngarndji) or Ngarnka language was traditionally spoken by the Ngarnka people of the Barkly Tablelands in the Northern Territory of Australia. The last fluent speaker of the language died between 1997 and 1998. Ngarnka belongs to the Mirndi language family, in the Ngurlun branch. It is closely related to its eastern neighbours Binbinka, Gudanji and Wambaya. It is more distantly related to its western neighbour Jingulu, and three languages of the Victoria River District, Jaminjung, Ngaliwurru and Nungali. There is very little documentation and description of Ngarnka, however there have been several graduate and undergraduate dissertations written on various aspects of Ngarnka morphology, and a sketch grammar and lexicon of Ngarnka is currently in preparation.
The Nyikina people are an indigenous Australian people of northern Western Australia. They come from the lower Fitzroy River.
Maran or Maric is a extinct branch of the Pama–Nyungan family of Australian languages formerly spoken throughout much of Queensland by many of the Murri peoples. The well attested Maric languages are clearly related; however, many languages of the area became extinct before much could be documented of them, and their classification is uncertain. The clear Maric languages are:
Wagaya (Wakaya) is an extinct Australian Aboriginal language of Queensland. Yindjilandji (Indjilandji) may have been a separate language.
Ngumbarl is an extinct Nyulnyulan language formerly spoken in Western Australia.
The Macro-Gunwinyguan languages, also called Arnhem or Gunwinyguan, are a family of Australian Aboriginal languages spoken across eastern Arnhem Land in northern Australia. Their relationship has been demonstrated through shared morphology in their verbal inflections.
Claire Bowern is a linguist who works with Australian indigenous languages. She is currently Professor of Linguistics at Yale University.
The Baada, also commonly called the Bardi, are an indigenous Australian people, living north of Broome and inhabiting parts of the Dampier Peninsula in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
The Djaui, also commonly called the Jawi, are an indigenous Australian people of the Kimberley coast of Western Australia.
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