|Northern Territory, Australia|
Yolŋu languages (green) among other Pama–Nyungan (tan)
Yolngu languages have a fortis–lenis contrast in plosive consonants. Lenis/short plosives have weak contact and intermittent voicing, while fortis/long plosives have full closure, a more powerful release burst, and no voicing.
Yolŋu Matha consists of about six mutually intelligible languages divided into about thirty clan varieties and perhaps twelve different dialects, each with its own Yolŋu name. Put together, there are about 4600 speakers of Yolŋu Matha. While there is extensive variation between these dialects, there is generally common mutual intelligibility, hence the umbrella group of Yolngu Matha. The linguistic situation is very complicated, since each of the 30 or so clans also has a named language variety. Dixon (2002) distinguishes the following:
Bowern (2011) adds the varieties in parentheses as distinct languages.
- Ten Canoes - a film largely in the Ganalbiŋu variety of Yolŋu Matha.
- Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu A popular Australian singer who sings in the Gumatj dialect of the Yolngu language.
Dictionaries and resources
Dictionaries have been produced by Beulah Lowe, David Zorc and Michael Christie. A public-domain version of Beulah Lowe's dictionary is available as a pdf file.
There are also several grammars of Yolngu languages by Jeffrey Heath, Frances Morphy, Melanie Wilkinson and others.
Words and expressions
- Gakal = the action or symptom of progression in an illness
- Gapumirr = watery.
- Manymak = Good, OK
- Yow (pronounced 'Yo') = Yes
- Yaka = No
- Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Yolŋu Matha". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
- Dixon, R. M. W. (2002). Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development. Cambridge University Press. p. xxxvi.
- ARDS Language Publications
- Trudgen, Richard, 2000, 'Thirteen years of wanting to know', Why warriers lie down and die, Adoriginal Resource and Development Services, Inc. Darwin, pp. 97-112
- Yolngu.net: grammar, vocabulary, history 
- Aboriginal Resource and Development Services (ARDS) 
- Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Yolŋu Matha course 
- ARDS Rhombuy Dhäwu: Legal English-Yolngu Matha Online Dictionary 
- Trudgen, Richard, Why Warriors Lie Down & Die , ARDS, Darwin, 2000.
- Examples of Yolngu Matha being spoken 
- Radio National story
- Watson, Helen and David Wade Chambers (with the Yolngu community at Yirrkala). Singing the Land, Signing the Land. Deakin University.
- Madayin Law in Yolngu and English