Wilson River language

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Wilson River
RegionWilson River (Queensland)
EthnicityWongkumara, Ngandangara, Punthamara, Kungadutji, ?Thereila
Extinctprobably by 2005[1]
  • Punthamara (Bundhamara)[2]
  • Ngandangara (Yarumarra, Eromarra)
  • 'Modern' Wangkumara
  • Wangkumara (Galali)
  • Gungadidji
  • ?Mambangura/Thereila
Language codes
ISO 639-3Variously:
xpt – Punthamara
ntg – Ngantangarra
gdt – Kungardutyi
xwk – Wangkumara
eaa – Karenggapa
AIATSIS[1]L30 Ngandangara, L26 Punthamara, L56 Yarrumada, L68 'Modern' Wangkumara, D71 Galali (McDonald & Wurm's Waŋkumara (Gaḷali)), L16 Gungadidji, L15 Karenggapa

The Wilson River language is an Australian Aboriginal language of the Karnic family. It was spoken by several peoples along the Wilson River in Queensland. Of these, the Wangkumara and Galali may have migrated from the Bulloo River and abandoned their language when they arrived. (See Bulloo River language.)


In 1981, the language was still spoken by four members of the Wangkumara community around Cooper Creek, the Thomson River, and the Warry Warry Creek, the town of Eromanga and the Nuccundra.[3] It appears to have gone extinct by 2005.[1]


Dixon (2002) considers Punthamara to be a dialect of Wangkumara, Bowern (2001) as very close. Bowern says that Ngandangara also appears to have been "very close", although data is too poor for a proper classification.[4] Karenggapa is either a dialect or an alternative name.[5] (McDonald & Wurm 1979) note that Wilson River Galali, what they call "Waŋkumara (Gaḷali)", is very close to modern Waŋkumara and Bundamara.

Breen (1967) states that the (Karnic) speech of the groups along the Wilson River are essentially identical. These include Bundhamara, Gungadudji, 'Modern' Wanggumara and Ngandangura. For instance, that Gungadidji is 'almost identical to Punthamara and modern Wangkumara'. Nonetheless, these language varieties have been assigned individual ISO codes.

Mambangura (the language of the Thereila) may have belonged as well. At least, the Yandruwandha term Palpakunu covered it as well as the other Wilson River dialects.

A language labeled "Wonkomarra" in Myles (1886) is a different language from modern Wangkumara, and may be a variety of Kalali.


Wangkumara is notable for being a language with a tripartite verbal alignment.[citation needed] Wurm's Wankamara (Galali) is entirely suffixing and morphologically fairly simple having the following word classes: nominal (noun and pronoun), verb, particle, and interjection. The word order is random and free. The phonemes consist of three vowels and 26 consonants.


  1. ^ a b c L30 Ngandangara at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies  (see the info box for additional links)
  2. ^ RMW Dixon (2002), Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development, p xxxvii
  3. ^ Ritchie, John; Cunneen, Christopher (1996). "Dixon, Lorna Rose (1917? - 1976)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 23 July 2007.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Bowern, Claire (2001). "Karnic classification revisited". In J Simpson; et al. (eds.). Forty years on. Canberra Pacific Linguistics. pp. 245–260. Archived from the original on 5 August 2012.
  5. ^ L15 Karenggapa at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies

External links[edit]