Nungali language

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Native to Australia
Region Upper Daly River, Northern Territory
Extinct ca. 2000
Language codes
ISO 639-3 nug
Glottolog nung1291[1]

Nungali is an Australian language which is believed to be extinct. It was spoken in the Northern Territory of Australia, around the upper Daly River.[3] Its closest relative is the Jaminjung language.

It is the only Yirram language which has retained the original four-class system in nominals. The four classes are masculine, feminine, neuter and plants, and each of the classes have separate prefixes expressing the absolutive case, locative or ergative case, and the dative case.[4]

Class Abs. Loc. / Erg. Dat.
I Masc. ti- nyi- ki-
II Fem. nya- nyani- kanyi-
III Neut. nu- / ni- nyi- ki- / ku-
IV Plants ma- - ki-

The locative case is also productive when it comes to placenames. An example is Nyimarlanpurruni referring to the Timber Creek area, which consists of the neuter locative prefix nyi-, the word for "river gum", the plural marker -purru, and an additional marker of the neuter locative, -ni.[4]


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Nungali". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  2. ^ Nungali at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
  3. ^ Ethnologue
  4. ^ a b McConvell, Patrick (2009), "'Where the spear sticks up' - The variety of locatives in placenames in the Victoria River District, Northern Territory", in Koch, Harold; Hercus, Luise, Aboriginal Placenames: Naming and re-naming the Australian landscape, ANU E-Press, pp. 359–402, ISBN 978-1-921666-08-7