Laragiya language

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RegionNear Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
Native speakers
14 (2016 census)[1]
  • Laragiya
Language codes
ISO 639-3lrg

The Laragiya language, also spelt Larrakia (deriving from Larrakia people), and also known as Gulumirrgin, is an Australian language isolate spoken by just six people near the city of Darwin in northern Australia as of 1983. Only 14 people claimed to know the Laragiya language in 2016.

Laragiya was once considered a language isolate, but Mark Harvey has made a case for it being part of a family of Darwin Region languages.[4]

Linguist Arthur Capell wrote,

"Even in 1950 there were no children speaking it, and most of the older people who spoke it in 1952 (when the bulk of these notes was gathered) were found on the Delissaville Reserve (now Belyuen ), across the harbour from Darwin. By 1968, reports of only two speakers could be gained, and these far away from Darwin. In former times, however, the tribe was fairly large, and its territory extended to the Adelaide River, where it joined that of a tribe called "Woolna" by the early writers, while on the south-east it was bounded by the Warrai. These latter languages are practically unrecorded.
"The present outline of Laragia is based on notes taken at various periods, chiefly 1949 and 1952. The notes have been systematised as far as possible, but they make no claim to provide a fully laid out grammar, especially on the phonetic level."


"Morphophonemic rules are not so complex in Laragia as in Maung and Jiwadja, though some are shared between the three languages. One in particular is shared with Ngarinyin in the Northern Kimberley Division of Western Australia. The chief difficulties in setting up an orthography for Laragia are due to certain morphophonemic rules, but others arise from the indefinite pronunciations..."


Concord formation

"Laragia is a member of the multiple-classifying language group, but has the somewhat unusual practice of combining prefixes and suffixes in the formation of the concord. The Laragia concord is shown by a discontinuous morpheme - at least in many cases, but not in the verb - partly prefixal and partly suffixal.

"It is what Zellig Harris called a 'broken sequence'. It may be mentioned in passing that the majority of the multiple-classifying languages in North Australia used prefixal forms to mark the classes, but a few, such as Worora and Unggumi in the Northern Kimberley Division of Western Australia, have vestigial suffixes, while a few on the Barkly Tablelands in the eastern part of the Northern Territory use only suffixes. These phenomena suggest that the languages originally had, as Laragia still does, markers at each end of the word."[5]

"Larrakia Elder Robert Mills of is at least able to name plants and animals as Lorraine Williams, a Larrakia woman and Research Associate with the School of Australian Indigenous Knowledge systems had published online, "For a lot of my life I have been involved in and have given evidence as a claimant in the Kenbi Land Claim and the Darwin Native Title proceedings. I am currently working on Larrakia Cultural Heritage Management focusing on Larrakia archaeological sites in the Darwin region and I have a keen interest in all things Larrakia. In years gone by I have worked on Larrakia ethnobiology with the view to keeping Larrakia language and culture strong. I am a member of the Batcho family of the Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation.

"The Larrakia in previous years referred to themselves as Gulumerrgin. Gulumerrgin is the name of the language spoken by the Larrakia."[6]


  1. ^ "Census 2016, Language spoken at home by Sex (SA2+)". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Laragia". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ N21 Laragiya at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
  4. ^ Bowern, Claire. 2011. "How Many Languages Were Spoken in Australia?", Anggarrgoon: Australian languages on the web, December 23, 2011 (corrected February 6, 2012)
  5. ^ Capell, A.; Kathleen Glasgow; G.R. McKay; Rod Kennedy; D. Trefry. "Papers in Australian Linguistics No. 16". Pacific Linguistics A (68): 56–106.
  6. ^ Larrakia 'Gulumerrgin' subproject

External links[edit]