Language of the Week: Week Twenty-Six - Maiawali
By dcrump | 23 November 2020
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this blog post may contain images or 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-Six of the A-Z of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages!
This week's language of the week is Maiawali from Western Queensland, particularly the area surrounding the Diamantina Lakes taking in Springvale and Cork Stations. Maiawali is also known as Mayawarli, Majawali, Majuli, Mailly, Myall, Myallee, etc. and is closely related to Pitta Pitta and Kunkalanya. According to Austlang, there is minimal documentation and no known speakers.
Mayawarli/Maiawali entry - Oates (1970) A revised linguistic survey of Australia.
The above image depicts the entry for Mayawarli/Maiawali in Oates' revised linguistic survey of Australia; at the time there were no known fluent speakers, however the text references Breen as documenting words from an informant at Boulia in 1969 as well as Blake recording another speaker in 1972. There are also historical wordlists from pastoral properties collected in the late 1800's.
From this minimal material comes the following selection of words from Maiawali:
- thada = thigh
- punda = bone
- wintha = night
- matyumpa = kangaroo
- kukaparri = emu
- wakari = fish
- kuntara = snake
- ngantya = I
- yinpa = you
Languages of Western Queensland, Breen (1990).
The image above from Breen (1990) shows languages of Western Queensland, highlighting the location of Mayawali (Maiawali) in relation to neighbouring languages. State Library collections holds the work of Breen and Blake relating to Maiawali and Western Queensland languages. Language recordings by Blake as well as Breen's field notes are held in AIATSIS.
Join State Library for next week's Language of the Week - Nyawaygi from 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
Minya Birran: What next for Indigenous Languages?
Cover image: Buildings on Cork Station, 1929. JOL Negative Number 37116
Mayarwali/Maiawali entry from Oates (1970) A revised linguistic survey of Australia. Q 499.15 OAT
Map, Languages of Western Queensland from Breen (1990).
References and Further Reading
Blake, B.J. (1979b) “Pitta-Pitta”. In Dixon, R. M. W. & Blake, B. (Eds), The handbook of Australian languages 1, 182-242. G 499.15 1979
Breen, J.G. (1990) Salvage Studies of Western Queensland Aboriginal Languages. J 499.15 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. RBF 572.994 cur
Desert Channels Queensland (2013) Pitta Pitta Pictorial Dictionary. Desert Channels Queensland: Longreach. JUVQ 499.9915 PIT
Dixon, R. and Blake, B. (Eds) (1981) Handbook of Australian Languages. The Australian National University Press; Canberra. G 499.15 1979
Holmer, N. (1988) Notes on Some Queensland Languages. Australian National University: Canberra. J 499.15 HOL
Meston, A. (undated) Archibald Meston Papers 1860-1960. OM64-17
Oates, W. J. and Oates, L. (1970) A revised linguistic survey of Australia. Q 499.15 OAT
Tindale, N. B. (1974) Aboriginal Tribes of Australia: Their Terrain, Environmental Controls, Distribution, Limits and Proper Names. Q 994.0049915 tin
AUSTLANG - Australian Languages Database
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) website
Desert Channels Queensland website
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