Gamilaraay language

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Darling tributaries
Native toAustralia
RegionCentral northern New South Wales
EthnicityGamilaraay, Ualarai, Kawambarai
Extinct"recently extinct" as of 2007[1][2][3]
Revival1065 claim to speak Gamilaraay (2021 census)
  • Gamilaraay (Kamilaroi)
  • Yuwaalaraay (Euahlayi)
  • Yuwaalayaay (Yuwaaliyaay)
  • Guyinbaraay (Gunjbaraay)
  • Gawambaraay (Kawambarai)
  • Wirray Wirray (Wiriwiri)
  • Waalaraay (Walaraay)
Language codes
ISO 639-3kld
A map of the tribes of New South Wales, published in 1892. Gamilaraay is marked I.
Gamilaraay is classified as Critically Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

The Gamilaraay or Kamilaroi language is a Pama–Nyungan language of the Wiradhuric subgroup found mostly in south-eastern Australia. It is the traditional language of the Gamilaraay (Kamilaroi), an Aboriginal Australian people. It has been noted as endangered, but the number of speakers grew from 87 in the 2011 Australian Census to 105 in the 2016 Australian Census. Thousands of Australians identify as Gamilaraay, and the language is taught in some schools.

Wirray Wirray, Guyinbaraay, Yuwaalayaay, Waalaraay and Gawambaraay are dialects; Yuwaalaraay/Euahlayi is a closely related language.


The name Gamilaraay means 'gamil-having', with gamil being the word for 'no'. Other dialects and languages are similarly named after their respective words for 'no'. (Compare the division between langues d'oïl and langues d'oc in France, distinguished by their respective words for 'yes'.)

Spellings of the name, pronounced [ɡ̊aˌmilaˈɻaːj] in the language itself, include Goomeroi; Kamilaroi; Gamilaraay and Gamilaroi.


Traditional lands of Australian Aboriginal tribes around Sydney, New South Wales[Note 1]

While AUSTLANG cites Euahlayi, Ualarai, Euhahlayi, and Juwalarai as synonyms for Gamilaraay in earlier sources,[3] it has updated its codes to reflect more recent sources suggest different distinctions. AIATSIS groups the Yuwaalaraay/Euahlayi/Yuwaaliyaay language and people in its resource collection,[6][7] and gives it a separate code (D23).[8] AUSTLANG assigns separate codes to the following dialects, all related and part of the Gamilaraay group:[8]

According to Robert Fuller of the Department of Indigenous Studies at Macquarie University and his colleagues, the Gamilaraay and Euahlayi peoples are a cultural grouping of north and northwest New South Wales (NSW), and the Gamilaraay dialect groups are known as Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay, while the Euahlayi (Euayelai[15]) have a similar but distinct language.[16]


Southern Aboriginal guides led the surveyor John Howe to the upper Hunter River above present-day Singleton in 1819. They told him that the country there was "Coomery Roy [=Gamilaraay] and more further a great way", meaning to the north-west, over the Liverpool Ranges.[17] This is probably the first record of the name.

A basic wordlist collected by Thomas Mitchell in February, 1832, is the earliest written record of Gamilaraay.

Presbyterian missionary William Ridley studied the language from 1852 to 1856.


In 2013 Gamilaraay was noted as endangered by Ethnologue, with only 35 speakers left in 2006 (AUSTLANG says 37 at that date), all mixing Gamilaraay and English.[1] At the 2011 Census there were 87 speakers recorded and in 2016, 105.[3] There are no known fluent speakers of the language.



Front Back
High i ⟨i⟩, ⟨ii⟩ u ⟨u⟩, ⟨uu⟩
Low a ⟨a⟩, ⟨aa⟩

/wa/ is realized as [wo].


Peripheral Laminal Apical
Bilabial Velar Palatal Dental Alveolar Post-
Stop b ⟨b⟩ ɡ ⟨g⟩ ɟ ⟨dj⟩ ⟨dh⟩ d ⟨d⟩
Nasal m ⟨m⟩ ŋ ⟨ng⟩ ɲ ⟨ny⟩ ⟨nh⟩ n ⟨n⟩
Lateral l ⟨l⟩
Rhotic r ⟨rr⟩ ɻ ⟨r⟩
Semivowel w ⟨w⟩ j ⟨y⟩

Initially, /wu/ and /ji/ may be simplified to [u] and [i].


All long vowels in a word get equal stress. If no long vowels are present, stress falls on the first syllable. Secondary stress falls on short vowels, which are two syllables to the right or to the left of a stressed syllable.



Gawambaraay Dialect

Subject pronouns:[18]
Singular Dual Plural
1st person ngaya ngali ngiyaani
2nd person ngindu ngindaali ngindaay
3rd person nguru (nguru)gali ganu

Gamilaraay words in English[edit]

Several loanwords have entered Australian English from Gamilaraay, including:

Common nouns
Anglicised form Gamilaraay Meaning
bindi-eye, bindii, bindies bindayaa The burrs of several plant species (Emex australis, Tribulus terrestris, and Soliva sessilis) that stick in one's feet
brolga burralga A bird species, Grus rubicunda
possibly budgerigar gidjirrigaa A bird species, Melopsittacus undulatus
galah gilaa A bird species, Eolophus roseicapilla
yarran yarraan A species of acacia tree, Acacia homalophylla[19]
Proper nouns
Anglicised form Gamilaraay Meaning
Kamilaroi gamilaraay The Gamilaraay people or language
Place names
Anglicised form Gamilaraay Meaning
Boggabri bagaaybaraay having creeks
Boggabilla bagaaybila full of creeks
Collarenebri galariinbaraay having acacia blossoms


  1. ^ This map is indicative only.
  2. ^ For more information on the Euahlayi dialect and tribe, see Parker, K. Langloh (Katie Langloh); Lang, Andrew, 1844-1912 (1905), The Euahlayi tribe : a study of Aboriginal life in Australia, Archibald Constable, retrieved 14 September 2020 – via The Gutenberg Bible{{citation}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link).
  3. ^ Not to be confused with Wirraay-Wirraay (D66).[10]
  4. ^ Closely related to Yuwaalaaray, but different.


  1. ^ a b Gamilaraay language at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (2021). "Cultural diversity: Census". Retrieved 13 October 2022.
  3. ^ a b c "D23: Gamilaraay / Gamilaroi / Kamilaroi". AIATSIS Collection. 26 July 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  4. ^ D23 Gamilaraay at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
  5. ^ Endangered Languages Project data for Yuwaalaraay.
  6. ^ "Yuwaalaraay, Euahlayi, Yuwaaliyaay". Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  7. ^ AIATSIS (February 2017). "Selected bibliography of material on the Yuwaalaraay / Euahlayi / Yuwaaliyaay language and people held in the AIATSIS Library" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 April 2020. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  8. ^ a b "D27: Yuwaalaraay". AIATSIS Collection: AUSTLANG. 26 July 2019. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  9. ^ "D28: Wiriyaraay". AIATSIS Collection (AUSTLANG). 26 July 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  10. ^ "D66: Wirraay-Wirraay". AIATSIS Collection (AUSTLANG). 26 July 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  11. ^ "D15: Guyinbaraay". AIATSIS Collection (AUSTLANG). 26 July 2019. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  12. ^ "D54: Yuwaalayaay". AIATSIS Collection (AUSTLANG). 26 July 2019. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  13. ^ "D55: Waalaraay". AIATSIS Collection (AUSTLANG). 26 July 2019. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  14. ^ "D39: Gawambaraay". AIATSIS Collection (AUSTLANG). 26 July 2019. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  15. ^ Behrendt, Larissa (1995). "Aboriginal Urban Identity: Preserving the Spirit, Protecting the Traditional in Non-Traditional Settings". Australian Feminist Law Journal. 4: 55–61. doi:10.1080/13200968.1995.11077156. Retrieved 11 September 2020 – via HeinOnline.
  16. ^ Fuller, Robert S.; Anderson, Michael G.; Norris, Ray P.; Trudgett, Michelle (2014). "The Emu Sky Knowledge of the Kamilaroi and Euahlayi Peoples". Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage. 17 (2): 171–179. arXiv:1403.0304. Bibcode:2014JAHH...17..171F. doi:10.3724/SP.J.1440-2807.2014.02.04. S2CID 53352158. Retrieved 11 September 2020 – via
  17. ^ O'Rourke, Michael. (1997). The Kamilaroi Lands: North-central New South Wales in the Early 19th Century. Self-published. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-646-34533-8.
  18. ^ Austin, P. (1993) A Reference Grammar of Gamilaraay, Northern New South Wales.
  19. ^ Oxford Dictionary of English, p 2,056


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]