Language of the Week: Week Twenty-One - Goenpul
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this blog post may contain images or refer to names of Aboriginal people who have passed; this is not meant to cause distress or offence but raise awareness of our shared history and the story of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages across Queensland.
Welcome to Week Twenty-One of the A-Z of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages!
To coincide with our first lunchtime lingo webinar with Gaja Kerry Charlton, this week's language of the week is Goenpul a language from Moreton Bay in South-East Queensland. Goenpul is also known as Gorenpul, Koenpal, Coobenpil, Goinbal, etc. and seen as related to the Jandai language of Stradbroke and nearby islands. Austlang includes some discussion on the nature of Goenpul with differing perspectives. For example, Watkins & Hamilton (1886) believe it to be a dialect of Yuggera spoken by Goenpul or Guwanpal people. O'Grady et al. (1966) treat Koenpul as an alternative name of Djendewal/Jandai; while Oates (1975) treats Goinbal as an alternative name for Djendewal, located on the southern part of Stradbroke Island. Tindale in his work treats Jandai as an alternate name for Koenpal.
There are three clans recognised under Quandamooka Peoples - Nughi of Moorgumpin (Moreton Island) and the Nunukul and Gorenpul of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island). Goenpul the language was spoken on Stradbroke Island and inner islands extending along the coast from Redland Bay to Wynnum. The language is considered endangered and currently undergoing revival activities within the community.
The above wordlist was collected by George Watkins who was the Dispenser and Assistant Director at the Benevolent Asylum, Dunwich in 1868 and had a keen interest in the Aboriginal people of North Stradbroke Island. During his time there, Watkins collected over 250 words from Aboriginal community members. As well as the list in Curr, Watkins later published a booklet Notes on the aboriginals of Stradbroke and Moreton islands in 1891 which provides further background notes on the Aboriginal people of Moreton Bay.
One of the more unusual Moreton Bay texts collected by Meston is the above "Lord's Prayer in Lytton dialect" which he describes as Coobennill (Goenpul) - this was published in The Queenslander newspaper of 14 November 1903. Recent linguistic work includes a community dictionary of Jandai compiled in 2011 by the Minjerribah Moorgumpin Elders-in-Council Aboriginal Corporation and includes knowledge of Elders, language custodians and visitors to Moreton Bay who documented language. This corporation is actively involved in the revival of language on North Stradbroke Island.
Gaja Kerry Charlton and Barry Brown have been actively researching the languages of South-East Queensland with a focus on the Moreton Bay region. Both have been regular visitors to State Library language workshops to explore the collections of Meston, Welsby and others who have documented the languages of Quandamooka and surrounding regions. The end product of their research was An Introduction to the Languages of Moreton Bay: Yagarabul and Its Djandewal Dialect, and Moreton Islands Gowar, published in 2019.
Join State Library for our first lunchtime lingo webinar featuring Gaja Kerry Charlton on Wednesday 21 October; this in-conversation session will explore Gaja Kerry's language journey including the recent publication An introduction to the languages of Moreton Bay.
Next week's Language of the Week is Irukandji from Far North Queensland!
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
Jarjum Stories exhibition
Old Words, New Ways upcoming exhibition
Minya Birran: What next for Indigenous Languages?
Cover image: Ladies watching the boats at Wynnum Jetty, Brisbane ca. 1907. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 194784
Curr No. 170: Stradbroke and Moreton Islands, Goenpul Tribe Jandai language. RBF 572.994 cur
"Lord's Prayer in Lytton Dialect", The Queenslander 14 November, 1903. Sourced from NLA/Trove Newspapers.
Cover - Jandai Language Dictionary. HKT 499.153 JAN
Cover - An Introduction to the Languages of Moreton Bay: Yagarabul and Its Djandewal Dialect, and Moreton Islands Gowar.
References and Further Reading
Colliver, F. S. and Woolston, F. P. (1986) Aboriginals in the Brisbane Area. PAM 994.30049915 1986
Colliver, F. S. and Woolston, F. P. (1975) "The Aborigines of Stradbroke Island." in Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland, 86 (16), 1975. VF 572.99432 COL
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. RBF 572.994 cur
Holmer, N. (1983) Linguistic Survey of South-Eastern Queensland. J 499.15 HOL
Meston, A. (undated) Archibald Meston Papers Undated. OM64-17
Meston, A. (200?) Morton Bay and Islands. J 994.32 MES
The Queenslander (1903) Meston "Morton Bay and Islands, IV" 14 November 1903, p. 26. Online via Trove.
Minjerribah Moorgumpin Elders-in-Council Aboriginal Corporation (2011) Jandai language dictionary: a dictionary of language spoken on Stradbroke and Moreton Islands based on words remembered by all Elders and recorded by interested visitors to our shores. HKT 499.153 JAN
Tindale, N. B. (1974) Aboriginal tribes of Australia: their terrain, environmental controls, distribution, limits and proper names. Q 994.0049915 tin
Watkins, G. (1891) Notes on the aboriginals of Stradbroke and Moreton islands. P 306.089 wat
Watson, F. J. (1944.) Vocabularies of four representative tribes of South Eastern Queensland. Supplement to the Journal of the Royal Geographic Society of Australasia (Queensland), No. 34, Vol. XLVIII. REFJ 499.15 wat
Welsby, T. (1916) “Recollections of the Natives of Moreton Bay together with some of their names and customs of living.” (Typescript) 6758 Box 11392.
Minjerribah Moorgumpin Elders-in-Council website
Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation website
Yugambeh Museum, Language & Heritage Research Centre website