Yukulta language

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Native speakers
1 full speaker (2007)[1]
0 speakers (2004)[2]
  • Yukulta
  • Nguburindi
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
gcd – Ganggalida
nny – Nyangga/Yangkaal (two different languages)
Glottologgang1267  Ganggalida[3]
nyan1300  Nyangga[4]
AIATSIS[2]G34 Ganggalida, G19 Nguburindi
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For a guide to IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.
traditional lands of the Yukulta people

Yukulta (Yugulda, Yokula, Yukala, Jugula, Jakula), also known as Ganggalida (Kangkalita), is an extinct Tangkic language spoken in Queensland and Northern Territory, Australia.


Yukulta is a member of the Tangkic language group, along with Kayardild, Lardil and Yanggal. Of these languages, Yukulta, Kayardild, and Yanggal are mutually intelligible.



Peripheral Laminal Apical
Bilabial Velar Palatal Dental Alveolar Retroflex
Plosive p k c t ʈ
Nasal m ŋ ɲ n ɳ
Rhotic r ɽ
Lateral l ɭ
Approximant ɰ j

It is not clear if the two rhotics are trill and flap, or flap and approximant.


Yukulta has three vowels, each with a long and short variant: a, i, and u.


There are many different rules governing what happens to each Yukulta phoneme in any given environment, so most morphemes have at least two allomorphs.



All Yukulta nouns and adjectives consist of a root and an inflectional ending. Nouns and the adjectives that go along with them have to agree in their endings. Yukulta nominals can take five case-endings: absolutive, ergative/locative, dative, ablative and allative. As in Kayardild, each morphological ending can be realized as various allomorphs, depending on the phonological environment. There can be many versions of any given morpheme. The absolutive marker, for instance, can be realized as any of eight allomorphs.

  • The canonical absolutive marker is -ta. The subject of an intransitive verb or the direct object of a transitive verb takes this ending.
  • The canonical ergative/locative marker is -iya. The subject of a transitive verb or the place where something takes place takes this ending.
  • The canonical dative marker is -iɲca. Indirect objects and the objects of semi-transitive verbs take this ending.
  • The canonical ablative marker is -inapa. An item away from which motion is happening takes this ending.
  • The canonical allative marker is -iɭu. An item toward or to which motion is happening takes this ending.

Derivational Endings[edit]

In addition to the inflectional endings that Yukulta nominals can take, there are a few important derivational affixes that occur between the root and the inflectional ending. Like the inflectional endings, each has a few different allomorphs.

  • -wan and -wakaran, the genitive markers, denote possession.
  • -wuɭu, the comitative marker, denotes association.
  • -wari, the privative marker, denotes the absence of association or possession.


Free Pronouns[edit]

A Yukulta free pronoun consists of a root, case suffix, and possibly an inclusivity marker and/or a marker to distinguish between dual and plural (singular and exclusive are unmarked characteristics). Free pronouns have a different case-system than nominals, with intransitive and transitive subjects and transitive objects taking the nominative ending, semi-transitive objects taking the objective ending, as well as benefactive, locative, allative and ablative endings.

Bound Pronouns[edit]

Yukulta also has another sort of pronoun—bound pronouns—which occur as part of the clitic complex. Unlike free pronouns, bound pronouns do not consist of a stem and inflectional endings—each case form is separate. The form depends on a number of considerations, including the number of the subject of a verb, and the number, person, and exclusivity of the subject.

Clitic Complex[edit]

The clitic complex attaches to the first constituent of every Yukulta sentence that does not "emphasize a permanent, timeless state of affairs."[5] It consists of bound pronouns corresponding to each party involved in the action, a transitivity marker, and a tense-aspect marker.


All Yukulta verbs are either transitive or intransitive, with each group having a different conjugation pattern. The intransitive groups can be split into purely intransitive verbs and semi-transitive verbs, which take a dative object and an absolutive subject. There are three moods: indicative, imperative and desiderative. There is a further distinction within the imperative mood between imperative and hortatory, and within the desiderative mood between intent and desire.


Word Order[edit]

Yukulta word order is very free, in large part due to its relatively high level of inflection.

Subordinate Clauses[edit]

Some types of subordinate clauses in Yukulta, such as conditional clauses ("if...") and reason causes ("because...") are simply marked by a clitic attaching to the first constituent. For clauses of time and relative clauses, Yukulta uses the clitic -ŋala along with the rest of the clitic complex.


  1. ^ Ganggalida at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Nyangga/Yangkaal (two different languages) at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ a b Ganggalida at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies  (see the info box for additional links)
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Ganggalida". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Nyangga". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  5. ^ Keen, Sandra (1983). Yukulta. p. 221.
  • Keen, Sandra. Yukulta. 1983.

External links[edit]