Language of the Week: Week Seven - Kayardild

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

This week's language of the week is Kayardild, a language spoken in the Gulf of Carpentaria, particularly North Wellesley Islands and the adjoining mainland. Kayardild is also written as Kaiadilt or Gayardilt while the language is also referred to as Maldanunda, Malununda which refers to the people of Bentinck Island. Linguistically, it is connected to the neighbouring language of Lardil spoken on Mornington Island as well as sharing words with Yukulta and Yangkaal which is spoken on the mainland. The map below shows the Kayardild and neighbouring languages.

Wellesley Islands showing the four language groups.

According to Austlang, there were only a handful of fluent speakers identified in the 2016 National Indigenous Languages Survey. Nick Evans has undertaken linguist work with community members at Mornington and Bentinck Islands which was published as A Grammar of Kayardild, which is held in the State Library Collections. Paul Memmott and others have also undertaken archaeological studies of the region which have also documented language and cultural knowledge.

In addition, there are community language revival efforts on Bentinck and Mornington Islands - Kayardild people were moved from Bentinck Island in 1947-48 following a cyclone and accompanying tidal surge which destroyed most of the mission settlement. Mornington Island State School has published several children's books featuring Kayardild, Lardil and Yangkaal languages. A selection of these books are featured in the Jarjum Stories exhibition including cover image featured in the blog - Painting with Sally, which incorporates the art of Sally Gabori, a Kayardild artist.

Join State Library for next week's Language of the Week - Lamalama from the Cape York!

 

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?

 

Images

Cover image: Painting with Sally. JUV 994.0049915 MUR

Map of Wellesley Islands - from Memmott, P., Robins, R. and Stock, E. (2008) "What exactly is a fish trap? Methodological issues for the study of aboriginal intertidal rock wall fish traps, Wellesley Islands region, Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia." [Accessed from UQ eSpace]

 

References and Further Reading

State Library collections have some material relating to Kayardild and neighbouring languages; however, most of these items are part of larger, general linguistic or historical references on the Gulf islands. A selection of the Mornington Island State School children's books are featured in the following collection items:

Evans, N. (1995) A grammar of Kayardild : with historical-comparative notes on TangkicJ 499.15 EVA

Jack, P. (2014) Turtle and wallaby : Barun ban Garnjin. Told by Phil Jack; illustrated by Year 2 students at Mornington Island State School. JUV 299.9215 JAC

Loogatha, D. (2014) Mission times. By Dolly Loogatha, edited by Cassy Nancarrow; illustrated by Year 9/10 boys at Mornington Island State School.  JUV 994.38 LOO  

Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation (2014) Squid and Rat : a traditional Lardil story. Illustrated by Year 1 students at Mornington Island State School.  JUV 299.9215 SQU

Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation (2014) Sugarbag honey bees with Yeren and Balibal : a traditional Lardil story. Illustrated by Year 3 students at Mornington Island State School. JUV 299.9215 SUG

Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation (2014) Two boys and two devils : a traditional Yangkaal story from Forsyth Island. Illustrated by Year 3 students at Mornington Island State School.  JUV 299.9215 TWO

Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation (2014) Seagull and Crane : a traditional Lardil story. Illustrated by Year 4 students at Mornington Island State School. JUV 299.9215 SEA 

Mirndiyan Gununa Aboriginal Corporation (2014) Moon story : bidibil - gidigil : a traditional Lardil story. Illustrated by Year 7-8 boys at Mornington Island State School. JUV 299.9215 MOO 

Nekes, H., Wurms, E. and McGregor, W. (2006) Australian LanguagesJ 499.15 NEK

Peters, G. (2014) Dugong hunting : gendabaliyagu.  Told by Gully Peters; illustrated by Year 9/10 boys at Mornington Island State School.  JUV 799.27559 PET

Tindale, N. B. (1962) Geographical knowledge of the Kaiadilt people of Bentinck Island.  P 994.0049915 tin

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

Comments

We welcome relevant, respectful comments.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.
We also welcome direct feedback via Contact Us.
You may also want to ask our librarians.

Be the first to write a comment