Amurdak language

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RegionOenpelli, Goulburn Island, Northern Territory
  • Amurdak
  • Urrirk
  • Gidjurra
Language codes
ISO 639-3amg

Amurdak, also rendered Amurdag, Amurdak, Amurag, Amarag and Wureidbug, is an Aboriginal Australian language historically spoken in an area around the eastern coast of Van Diemen Gulf, in the Northern Territory of Australia. It is an endangered language, with only one recorded fluent speaker left as of 2021.


According to a report by the National Geographic Society and the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, it is an endangered language. The last living speaker, Charlie Mungulda, worked with Australian linguists Nick Evans, Robert Handelsmann and others, over several decades to record his language.[2][3]

The Amurdak language and Charlie Mungulda were featured in Language Matters with Bob Holman, a 2015 PBS documentary about endangered languages.[4][5]

According to the 2016 Australian census, there were no speakers of Amurdak in 2016;[6] however, as of March 2021 Mungulda's death has not been reported,[7] and he co-authored a paper published in May 2020.[8]



Peripheral Laminal Apical
Bilabial Velar Palatal Alveolar Retroflex
Plosive p k c t ʈ
Nasal m ŋ ɲ n ɳ
Approximant w ɣ j ɻ
Trill r
Flap ɽ
Lateral (ʎ) l ɭ
Lateral flap ɺ ⟨ld⟩ 𝼈 ⟨rld⟩

Evans but not Mailhammer identifies a palatal lateral /ʎ/ in Amurdag.


Mailhammer (2009) does not provide a vowel inventory but Evans (1998) briefly discusses vowels in his paper, noting that Iwaidjan languages including Amurdak have a three vowel (/a/, /i/, /u/) system.

Front Back
High i u
Low a


  1. ^ N47 Amurdak at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
  2. ^ Scientists: Many World Languages Are Dying Archived 5 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Associated Press via Fox News, 18 September 2007. Accessed 19 September 2007.
  3. ^ Schmid, Randolph E. (19 September 2007). "As languages die away, so do pieces of history". The Seattle Times.
  4. ^ "Language Matters with Bob Holman: A film by David Grubin". PBS. 10 January 2015. Archived from the original on 9 July 2019. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  5. ^ "10 people who are the last speakers of endangered languages". Gazette Review. 27 August 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  6. ^ "Census 2016, Language spoken at home by Sex (SA2+)". ABS. ABS. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  7. ^ "Language Hotspots". Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  8. ^ May, Sally K.; Taylor, Luke; Frieman, Catherine; Taçon, Paul S.C.; Wesley, Daryl; Jones, Tristen; Goldhahn, Joakim; Mungulda, Charlie (1 August 2020). "Survival, social cohesion and rock art: the painted hands of Western Arnhem Land, Australia". Cambridge Archaeological Journal (published 1 May 2020). 30 (3): 491–510. doi:10.1017/S0959774320000104. ISSN 0959-7743. Retrieved 14 March 2021. PDF

Further reading[edit]

  • Evans, Nicholas (1998). "Iwaidja mutation and its origins". In Anna Siewierska & Jae Jung Song. Case, Typology and Grammar: In honor of Barry J. Blake. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. pp. 115–149.
  • Handelsmann, R. (1991). Towards a description of Amurdak: a language of northern Australia. Honours thesis, University of Melbourne,
  • Mailhammer, R. (2009) 'Towards an Aspect-Based Analysis of the Verb Categories of Amurdak', Australian Journal of Linguistics, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 349–391.
  • Neidjie, B., Mulurinj, N., Mailhammer, R., & Handelsmann, R. (2009). Amurdak inyman: Six stories in Amurdak.