Kayardild language

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RegionSouth Wellesley Islands, north west Queensland, Australia
EthnicityKaiadilt, Yanggal
Native speakers
8 (2016 census)[1]
  • Kayardild
  • Yangkaal[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
gyd – Kayardild
nny – Yangkaal/Nyangga (two different languages)
AIATSIS[3]G35 Kayardild, G37 Yangkaal
Wellesley Islands locator map.jpg
Kayardild Traditional area
Lang Status 20-CR.png
Kayardild is classified as Critically Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger

Kayardild is a moribund Tangkic language spoken by the Kaiadilt on the South Wellesley Islands, north west Queensland, Australia, with fewer than ten fluent speakers remaining. Other members of the family include Yangkaal (spoken by the Yangkaal people), Lardil, and Yukulta (Ganggalidda). It is famous for its many unusual case phenomena, including case stacking of up to four levels, the use of clause-level case to signal interclausal relations and pragmatic factors, and another set of 'verbal case' endings which convert their hosts from nouns into verbs morphologically.


Kayardild consonant phonemes[5]
Peripheral Laminal Apical
Bilabial Velar Palatal Dental Alveolar Retroflex
Plosive p k c t ʈ
Nasal m ŋ ɲ n ɳ
Trill r
Lateral l
Approximant w j ɻ
Kayardild vowel phonemes[5]
Front Back
Close i iː u uː
Open a aː


  1. ^ "Census 2016, Language spoken at home by Sex (SA2+)". stat.data.abs.gov.au. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  2. ^ Dixon, R. M. W. (2002). Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development. Cambridge University Press. p. xxxix.
  3. ^ G35 Kayardild at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies  (see the info box for additional links)
  4. ^ Endangered Languages Project data for Yangkaal.
  5. ^ a b Evans (1995b:51)


  • Evans, Nick (1995a), "Current Issues in Australian languages", in Goldsmith, John A. (ed.), The Handbook of Phonological Theory, Blackwell Handbooks in Linguistics, Blackwell, pp. 723–761

Further reading[edit]

  • Evans, Nicholas. 1988. Odd topic marking in Kayardild. In Peter Austin, ed., Complex sentence constructions in Australian Languages. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. pp. 219–266.
  • Evans, Nicholas. 1992. Kayardild Dictionary and Thesaurus. University of Melbourne: Department of Linguistics and Language Studies.
  • Evans Nicholas. 1995b. A Grammar of Kayardild. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Evans, Nicholas. 1995c. The Kayardild language. In Julia Robinson, ed. Voices of Queensland. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
  • Evans, Nicholas. 1995d. Multiple case in Kayardild: anti-iconicity and the diachronic filter. In F. Plank, ed., Double case. Agreement by Suffixaufnahme. Oxford: University Press. pp. 396–428.
  • Evans, Nicholas. 2001. Typologies of agreement: some problems from Kayardild. Transactions of the Philological Society 101.2:203-234.
  • Evans, Nicholas. 2006. Kayardild. In Keith Brown (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Language and Linguistics, Vol. 6. Oxford: Elsevier. pp. 168–9.
  • Round, Erich. 2009. Kayardild Morphology, Phonology, and Morphosyntax. PhD dissertation, Yale University.
  • Round, Erich. 2013. Kayardild Morphology and Syntax. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Round, Erich and Corbett, Greville G. 2016. The theory of feature systems: one feature versus two for Kayardild tense-aspect-mood. Morphology 27 (1) 1-55.