Daly Languages
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Daly Languages
Daly River region, northern Australia
Linguistic classificationGeographic group of Australian language families.
Daly languages.png
The Daly languages (color), among the other non-Pama-Nyungan languages (grey)

Closeup. Anson Bay is the northernmost section, Murrinh-patha the westernmost.

The Daly languages are an areal group of four to five language families of Indigenous Australian languages.[1][2] They are spoken within the vicinity of the Daly River in the Northern Territory.


In the lexicostatistic classification of O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin, the Daly languages were put in four distinct families.[3]Darrell Tryon combined these into a single family, with the exception of Murrinh-patha.[4][5] However, such methodologies are less effective with languages with a long history of word borrowing.

Ian Green found that the languages could not be shown to be related by the comparative method, and so should be considered five independent families and language isolates.[6] The features they do share also tend to be shared with neighboring languages outside the Daly group.

The established families (according to Nordlinger) are:

Malak-Malak and Wagaydyic were once considered grouped into a Northern Daly family. Contemporary classifications may use Northern Daly to refer to Malak-Malak to the exclusion of the Wagaydyic languages (as Nordlinger does).


Capell (1940) lists the following basic vocabulary items for three Daly languages:[7]

gloss Mulluk Mulluk
(Northern Daly)
(Western Daly)
(Southern Daly)
man jinja mä?i me:bur
woman aluwa?a mogo walmi
head bundu biji däbi
eye numuru mi?i dam?i
nose jinin j?n dedji
mouth a?e ?a? dedir
tongue njändilg ?a? ?iri-?iri da:?
stomach m?n ma?i d?:g?:
bone mu?id amuwa ami
blood dawud wogirin budjän
kangaroo dj?jud aw?djiwuru? djawugu
opossum wiju abujiri abundarmi
emu amu?dji:r
crow wa?gir awag awa?gi
fly ?udjun awamir ami
sun mi?i bandi mi:ri
moon j?l bi?gal diwin
fire djiä? djändji jä?gi
smoke w?n djämu jä?gi dawan
water wa:g wodi gu?u


  1. ^ Nordlinger, Rachel (2017). "Chapter 37: The languages of the Daly region (Northern Australia)". In Fortescue, Michael; Mithun, Marianne; Evans, Nicholas (eds.). Oxford Handbook of Polysynthesis. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 782-807.
  2. ^ McConvell, Patrick; Evans, Nicholas, eds. (1997). Archaeology and Linguistics: Global Perspectives on Ancient Australia. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ O'Grady, G. N.; Voegelin, C. F.; Voegelin, F. M. (1966). "Languages of the world: Indo-Pacific Fascicle 6". Anthropological Linguistics. 8 (2).
  4. ^ Tryon, D. T. (1968). "The Daly River languages: a survey". Papers in Australian Linguistics. 3: 21-36.
  5. ^ Tryon, D. T. (1974). Daly family languages, Australia. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  6. ^ a b Green, I. "The Genetic Status of Murrinh-patha" in Evans, N., ed. "The Non-Pama-Nyungan Languages of Northern Australia: comparative studies of the continent's most linguistically complex region". Studies in Language Change, 552. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, 2003.
  7. ^ Capell, Arthur. 1940. The Classification of Languages in North and North-West Australia. Oceania 10(3): 241-272, 404-433. doi:10.1002/j.1834-4461.1940.tb00292.x

External links

  • The Daly Languages website (dalylanguages.org) brings together analysis, field note sketches and recordings of these languages.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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