Kalali language

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Bulloo River
RegionBulloo River, Queensland
Extinct(date missing)
  • Ngura (geographical)
    • Kalali
Language codes
ISO 639-3gll
AIATSIS[2]D30 Kullilli, L25 Wangkumara (Curr's Wongkomarra), L43 Bidjara, L57 Minkabari

Kalali (Galali, Garlali, Kullili, Kullilla) is a poorly attested Australian Aboriginal language. It is one of several geographically transitional 'KarnaMari fringe' languages that have not been convincingly classified, and is best considered an isolate branch within the Pama–Nyungan family.[2] Gavan Breen provisionally includes Minkabari and the 'Ngura' dialect Pitjara/Bidjara/Bitharra, which together have been called the Bulloo River language.[3]

Gavan Been is partly responsible for the variation in the spelling of the name 'Kalali'. The forms Garlali and Galarli are due to what he now considers a non-distinctive instance of retroflex rl, and he prefers the spelling Kalali.

People and language[edit]

Both the Kalali and the Wanggumara apparently lived by the Bulloo River and the Wilson River in South West Queensland. There is some debate whether they originated by the Bulloo River and migrated to the Wilson River or vice versa. For instance, Breen posited that some groups in southwest Queensland had abandoned their original languages (but not their names) and adopted the Wilson River language in the early days of Australian colonial settlement, when people moved from Thargomindah and the middle Bulloo River to Nockatunga (near the modern town of Noccundra).

The Bulloo River Kalali lived around the area from Thargomindah southward to the Currawinya Lakes and perhaps west to Bulloo Lakes and north to Norley Station. Bulloo River Kalali was studied by Breen (from a speaker named Charlie Phillips). The informant Charlie Phillips aged 74 years, born at Backwood Station south of Hungerford in southwest Queensland, spoke the language fluently and confidently despite having not used the language conversationally for 40 years.

A language labeled "Wonkomarra" in Myles (1886) is a different language from modern Wangkumara, and may be a variety of Kalali. On the other hand, the language spoken by the Kalali people that Wurm labeled 'Waŋkumara (Gaḷali)' was a variety of Wangkumara.


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kalali". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ a b D30 Kullilli at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies  (see the info box for additional links)
  3. ^ L57 Minkabari at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies

External links[edit]