|Daly River region, northern Australia|
|Linguistic classification:||Four independent families of Australian languages.|
The Day 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 (McConvell & Evans 1997). They are spoken within the vicinity of the Daly River in the Northern Territory.
In the lexicostatistic classification of O'Grady, Voegelin and Vogelin (1966), the Daly languages were put in four distinct families. Darrell Tryon (1968, 1974) combined these into a single family, with the exception of Murrinh-patha.
However, such methodologies do not account for loan words. 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. The features they do share also tend to be shared with neighboring languages outside the Daly group.
- Northern Daly
It is not clear if this is one family or two.
Green concluded that these were two separate families. Later researchers have linked them, and this is reflected in Bowern (2011). However, the Wagaydy people are recent arrivals in the area, and their language may only similar due to borrowing. Giyug is not known apart from reportedly being similar to Wagaydy.
- Western Daly
The Western Daly languages share common grammatical forms.
- Maranunggu (Emmi; Menhthe dialect)
- Marrithiyel (Bringen: Marri Ammu, Marritjevin, Marridan, Marramanindjdji dialects)
- Marri Ngarr (Magati-ge dialect)
- Eastern Daly
The Eastern Daly languages are fairly closely related at 50% cognate.
- Southern Daly
Southern Daly is a distant and problematic relationship.
Murrinh-Patha was once thought to be an isolate due to the lexical data: it has, at most, an 11-percent shared vocabulary with any other language against which it has been tested. However, they correspond closely in their verbal inflections. Green (2003) makes a case that the formal correspondences in core morphological sequences of their finite verbs are too similar (in their complexities and their irregularities) to have come about through anything other than a shared genetic legacy from a common parent language. Nonetheless, other than having cognates in their words for 'thou' (nhinhi and nyinyi) and 'this' (kanhi and kinyi), they share almost nothing else, and it is not clear what could explain this discrepancy.
- 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.
- Bowern, Claire. 2011. "How Many Languages Were Spoken in Australia?", Anggarrgoon: Australian languages on the web, December 23, 2011 (corrected February 6, 2012)
- Patjtjamalh at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
- Evans, 2003, The non-Pama-Nyungan languages of northern Australia
- Reid, N.J. Ngan’gityemerri. Unpublished PhD thesis, Australian National University, Canberra, 1990.
- Note that Ngan’gityemerri has no nh, and so would expect to have ny where its relatives have nh.
- McConvell, Patrick and Nicholas Evans. (eds.) 1997. Archaeology and Linguistics: Global Perspectives on Ancient Australia. Melbourne: Oxford University Press
- Dixon, R. M. W. (2002). Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- O'Grady, G. N.; Voegelin, C. F.; Voegelin, F. M. (1966). "Languages of the world: Indo-Pacific Fascicle 6". Anthropological Linguistics 8 (2).
- Tryon, D. T. (1968). "The Daly River languages: a survey". Papers in Australian Linguistics 3: 21–36.
- Tryon, D. T. (1974). Daly family languages, Australia. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.