Language of the Week: Week Five - Iningai

Welcome to Week Five of the A-Z of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages!

This week's language of the week is Iningai, a language spoken in Central-West Queensland, particularly in the area around Longreach and the Thompson River Catchment. The Iningai language region includes the landscape within the local government boundaries of the Longreach Regional Council and takes in the towns of Barcaldine, Muttaburra and Aramac as well as catchments of the Cornish Creek and Alice River. Iningai is also known as Yinangay, Yiningay, Muttaburra, Terreburra and Tateburra - the last three terms also refer to clan groups and may have been dialects of Iningai. It is closely related to the neighbouring language of Bidjara as well as shared words with Dharawala and Wadjabangayi to the South and West.


Droving sheep near Barcaldine.

According to Austlang, there are minimal speakers of Iningai and little documentation. There are some historical wordlists collected in the late 1800's and published in Curr's publication The Australian Race. Recent linguistic work has been undertaken by Gavan Breen and Barry Blake - copies of their linguistic work is held in the State Library collections.

Breen, Yinangay Wordlist (1990).

Breen in his 1990 publication Salvage studies of Western Queensland Aboriginal languages analyses historical wordlists collected at Alice River as well as a Cunningera wordlist from the Barcoo. This comparison is shown in the above extract featuring parts of the body and highlights 'shared words' across the Central-West region:

  • kadha [kutta] = hair of the head, also used for head in regional languages
  • dhili [tilli] = eye
  • manga [munga] = ear
  • mara [murra] = hand

Other names collated in another part of the table refers to family and kinship names also found in neighbouring languages:

  • yabu [yaboo] = father
  • yanga [yuna] = mother
  • gandu [candoo] = baby

Map showing Western Queensland Languages, Breen (1990).

On the State Library Spoken exhibition webpages, view a digital story from Central West Queensland featuring community members from neighbouring languages to Iningai sharing their language journeys.


Join State Library for next week's Language of the Week - Jarowair from the Toowoomba region!


Desmond Crump

Indigenous Languages Coordinator, State Library of Queensland

State Library of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Webpages

State Library of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Map


Spoken: Celebrating Queensland languages exhibition

Spoken Virtual Tour

Jarjum Stories exhibition

Minya Birran: What next for Indigenous Languages?



Daryl Frazer and Sun Woman Dress, Spoken Exhibition [D Crump Personal Photo].

Droving a mob of sheep near Barcaldine. JOL Negative No.69484

Yinangay comparative table, Breen (1990). J 499.15 BRE

Map of Western Queensland Languages, Breen (1990) J 499.15 BRE


References and Further Reading

State Library collections have some material relating to Iningai; however, these are part of texts or items referring to Aboriginal languages of Western Queensland, particularly work undertaken by Gavan Breen.

Relevant items in the collections include the following:

Breen, J.G. (1990) Salvage Studies of Western Queensland Aboriginal Languages. Pacific Linguistics Series B – No. 105. Australian National University: Canberra. J499.15 BRE

Curr, E. M. (1887) The Australian Race: its origins, languages, customs, place of landing in Australia and the routes by which it spread itself over that continent. John Ferres Government Printer: Melbourne. RBF 572.994 cur

Kennedy, E. B., Turner, A. A. and Blubber Head Press (1983) Kennedy, the Barcoo and beyond, 1847: the journals of Edmund Besley Court Kennedy and Alfred Allatson Turner with new information on Kennedy's life. Blubber Head Press: Hobart. J 919.4042 BEA

Mitchell, T. L. (1969) Journal of an expedition into the interior of tropical Australia: in search of a route from Sydney to the Gulf of Carpentaria.  J 919.404 MIT

Oates, W. J. and Oates, L. (1970) A revised linguistic survey of AustraliaQ 499.15 OAT

Queensland Place Names Board (n.d.) Aboriginal place names, words and meanings collected at ‘Terrick Terrick’, Blackall, Central Queensland about 1886. Queensland Place Names Board: Brisbane. VF 919.43003 que

Tindale, N. B. (1974) Aboriginal tribes of Australia: their terrain, environmental controls, distribution, limits and proper namesQ 994.0049915 tin


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