Yugambeh language

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RegionQueensland, Australia
Native speakers
18 (2016)[1]
  • Mananjahli (Wangerriburra)
  • Minyangbal
  • Ngahnduwal
  • Nerang Creek
Language codes
ISO 639-3xjb

Yugambeh (or Mibanah, from Mibanah gulgun, lit. "language of men" or "sound of eagles"),[2][3] also known as Tweed-Albert Bandjalang, is an Australian Aboriginal language spoken by the Yugambeh living in South-East Queensland between and within the Logan River basin and the Tweed River basin, bounded to the east by the Pacific Ocean (including South Stradbroke Island) and in the west by the Teviot Ranges and Teviot Brook basin.[4]

Yugambeh is dialect cluster of four dialects, one of four such clusters of the Bandjalangic branch of the Pama–Nyungan language family. A poorly attested variety called Ngarahgwal may belong to Yugambeh or to one of the other Bandjalang clusters.


In the Yugambeh language, the word Yugambeh means an emphatic "no", "never" i.e. "very much no" and is a common exonym for the people and their language. Language speakers use the word Miban which means "Man", "Human", "Wedge-Tailed Eagle" and is the preferred endonym for the people; they call their langauage Mibanah meaning "of man", "of human", "of eagle" (the -Nah suffix forming the genitive of the word "Miban").[5][6][2][3][7][8]

Yugambeh may also be referred to as:

  • Yugambir, Yugambeh (Yugambal/Yugumbal was evidently a separate language located further west[9])
  • Yubumbee
  • Jugumbir, Jukamba[10]
  • Tweed-Albert language
  • Nganduwal[11]
  • Ngarangwal[5]
  • Manaldjali (a variant of Mununjali, the name of a Yugambeh-speaking clan)
  • Minjanbal (probably from Minjungbal, an alternate language term)[12]

Geographic distribution[edit]

Satellite image of the geographic distribution of the Tweed-Albert Language

Yugambeh is spoken within the Logan, Albert, Coomera, Nerang, and Tweed River basins.[5]



Yugambeh has a vowel system of 4 vowels that also contrast in length, resulting in 8 phonemic vowels in total. The letter "h" is used after the vowel to indicate a long vowel.

Front Back
High i i: u u:
Mid e e:
Low a a:


The low central vowel /a/ is fronted and raised between palatal consonants and a lateral/rhotic consonant.


Compared to other Pama-Nyungan languages, Yugambeh has a smaller inventory of consonants. There are four places of articulation, with the consonants consisting of 4 obstruents, 4 nasals, 2 liquids, and 2 semivowels.

Peripheral Laminal Apical
Bilabial Velar Palatal Alveolar
Obstruent p p k k c ť t t
Nasal m m ŋ g ɲ ň n n
Lateral l l
Rhotic ɾ r
Semivowel w w j j


Obstruents do not have a voicing contrast, and can appear as fricative allophones. Obstruents are phonetically voiceless, except when following a homorganic consonant.[13]


The grammar of the Yugambeh language is highly agglutinative, making use of over 50 suffixes on nouns, verbs, adjectives and demonstratives.


Syntax in the Yugambeh language is fairly free ordered, with a tendency towards SOV (Subject Object Verb) structures. Adjectives and demonstratives part of noun phrases e.g. that man, a red car, stay adjacent to the noun they qualify.[14]

Noun morphology[edit]

Nouns take a number of suffixes to decline for grammatical case.


Noun suffixes are placed into 10 orders, a noun may not take more than one suffix from any order, and if more than one suffix is attached they must always be in the set order of the suffix orders, e.g. an order 7 suffix must always come after an order 5 suffix.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7# 8 9 10

Typified by












Ergative, Instrumental, Comitative








Past Possessive
















Past Locative



'X' stands for a homorganic obstruent.

'N' stands for a homorganic nasals.

#The comitative, purposive, desiderative, ablative and aversive suffixes are preceded by -bah on animate nouns.[15]

1st order suffixes

-gali (typified by) – Used to indicate an association or link


Jinanggali 'Shoe' lit. Typified by foot

Dubaygali 'Womaniser' lit. Typified by women

2nd order suffixes

-gan (feminine) – Used to form feminine nouns and some astrological terms


Yarabilngingan 'Female Singer'

3rd order suffixes

-bur (diminutive) – Used to form the diminutive of a noun, referring to a smaller version


Baraganbur 'Toy Boomerang'

4th order suffixes

-Nah (possessive) – Indicates current possession


Ngalingah 'Our'

Gibamah 'of the moon/moon's'

-Nahjil (past possessive) – Indicates past possession


Bilinahjil 'was of the parrot' (Billinudgel)

Verb morphology[edit]

Verbs are conjugated with the use of suffixes, it is an aspect dominant language, as opposed to tense dominant like most Western languages. Yugambeh suffixes mostly conjugate for aspect and mood


Verb suffixes are placed in 6 orders, a verb may not take more than one suffix from an order, and similar to nouns, suffixes are attached in a set order. Combinations of these suffixes express all possible conjugations of Yugambeh verbs, with only a small number of combinations possible, Yugambeh verb stems are commonly 2 syllables in length and always in a vowel.[16]

1 2 3 4 5 6



'Carry whilst...'

-li 'reflexive/passive' -ja

'Past tense'

-hn 'imperfective aspect' -du 'habitual mood'


-hny 'potential mood' -i 'preconditional'


-h 'imperative' -de 'preconditional'
-hla 'continuous aspect'
-nah 'antechronous aspect'
-nyun 'synchronous aspect'
-luru 'historical past'
-yah 'purposive'
-jin 'synchronous aspect'
-n 'permissive'
-ni 'perfective'

Adjective morphology[edit]

Adjectives can be marked with a suffix to indicate the gender of the noun they qualify.[15]


Adjective suffixes
Gender Suffix
Animate (male) -bin
Animate (female) -gan
Arboreal -Nahn*
Neuter -gay

*N stands for a homorganic nasal.


Yugambeh possesses a complicated set of demonstratives that make a three-way distinction, with proximal, medial, and distal sets, there is a further distinguishing of demonstrative adjectives and location demonstratives. The adjective set can be additionally suffixed to create demonstrative pronouns', the adjective set has three forms for "things in sight", "things hidden or not in sight" and "things not there anymore", while the location set has forms to indicate the general area and definite area, whether in sight or not in sight, and past and present forms.[17]

Adjective set[edit]

Demonstrative adjectives
Demonstratives Proximal (this) Medial (that) Distal (that over there)
In sight (sg) Gali Mali Gili
In sight (plrl) Gahny Mahny Gahm
Not in sight (sg) Gunah Munah Gilah
Not in sight (plrl) Gunyeh Munyeh Gilyeh

The above set can be suffixed with order 7 noun suffixes to form demonstrative pronouns that function like ordinary independent nouns. e.g. Yanindeh galini wungahbaia! 'Take this with you!'

The 'not in sight' and 'not here anymore' forms can take the order 2 noun suffix -gan to form time words. E.g. gunahgan 'recently'.

Location set[edit]

Demonstratives Proximal (here) Medial (there) Distal (over there)
In sight (definite area) Gaji Maji Guh
In sight (general area) Gunu Munu Gundeh
Not in sight (present) Gayu Mayu Guhyu
Not in sight (past) Gaye Maye Guhye


The Yugambeh Museum in Beenleigh currently maintains a free dictionary app for the Yugambeh language, available on Android,[18] iOS[19] and a desktop version.[20]

Place names[edit]

Modern place names with roots in the Yugambeh language include:[21]


  1. ^ a b c E17 Yugambeh at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
  2. ^ a b Design, UBC Web. "Yugambeh Aboriginal War Memorial | Monument Australia". monumentaustralia.org.au. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Memorial service for Yugambeh servicemen". Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  4. ^ Yugambeh Museum web site introduction (web site by the Kombumerri Aboriginal Corporation for Culture)
  5. ^ a b c Crowley, Terry (1978). The middle Clarence dialects of Bandjalang. Smythe, W. E. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies. ISBN 0855750650. OCLC 6041138.
  6. ^ Sharpe, Margaret C. (2005). Grammar and texts of the Yugambeh-Bundjalung dialect chain in Eastern Australia. Muenchen: Lincom Europa. ISBN 3895867845. OCLC 62185149.
  7. ^ "Edward Curr, The Australian Race" 1886. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 March 2011. Retrieved 17 September 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Macquarie Aboriginal Words, Macquarie University, 1994, paperback ISBN 0-949757-79-9, chapter 1
  9. ^ "Tindale Tribes – Jukambal". archives.samuseum.sa.gov.au. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  10. ^ "Tindale Tribes – Jukambe". archives.samuseum.sa.gov.au. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  11. ^ "Aboriginal Cultural Heritage". Tweed Regional Museum. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  12. ^ "Tindale Tribes – Minjungbal". archives.samuseum.sa.gov.au. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  13. ^ Sharpe, Margaret C. (2005). "Sounds of Yugambeh-Bundjalung". Grammar and Texts of the Yugambeh-Bundjalung Dialect Chain in Eastern Australia. Muenchen, Germany: LINCOM. pp. 43–47. ISBN 3-89586-784-5.
  14. ^ Sharpe, Margaret C. (2005). "Sentences and Clauses and Pronouns". Grammar and texts of the Yugambeh-Bundjalung dialect chain in Eastern Australia. Muenchen: Lincom Europa. pp. 48–56. ISBN 3895867845. OCLC 62185149.
  15. ^ a b Sharpe, Margaret C. (2005). "Nouns, Adjectives and their Suffixes". Grammar and texts of the Yugambeh-Bundjalung dialect chain in Eastern Australia. Muenchen: Lincom Europa. pp. 77–96. ISBN 3895867845. OCLC 62185149.
  16. ^ Sharpe, Margaret C. (2005). "The Verbs". Grammar and texts of the Yugambeh-Bundjalung dialect chain in Eastern Australia. Muenchen: Lincom Europa. pp. 57–74. ISBN 3895867845. OCLC 62185149.
  17. ^ Sharpe, Margaret C. (2005). Grammar and texts of the Yugambeh-Bundjalung dialect chain in Eastern Australia. LINCOM. pp. 97–102. ISBN 3-89586-784-5.
  18. ^ Museum, Yugambeh (16 June 2016), Yugambeh App, Yugambeh Museum, retrieved 18 September 2017[dead link]
  19. ^ "Yugambeh App on the App Store". App Store. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  20. ^ "Yugambeh Museum". yugambeh.com. Archived from the original on 29 July 2017. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  21. ^ "Indigenous Language Resources: South-East Qld Placenames" (PDF). State Library of Queensland.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]