Malyangapa project

The Malyangapa language was traditionally spoken in far western New South Wales, with its centre at Milparinka around the head of Yancannie Creek. To the east their territory boundaries ran to beyond Mount Arrowsmith, with a southern boundary around Mutawintji and Sturt Meadow. The name consists of malya ‘lake’ and ngapa ‘water’.

Materials on the language were recorded by the late Stephen A. Wurm in November 1957 with Hannah Quayle, who was born near Yancannia in about 1875, and with Alf Barlow. This material consists of 48 pages of fieldnotes (24 double-sided sheets) plus a brief tape-recording, amounting to 386 sentences and containing a vocabulary of 357 items. The late Luise A. Hercus also did some recording with George Dutton in the mid-1960s on Malyangapa. The late anthropologist Jeremy Beckett had previously worked with him on social and cultural traditions. Luise Hercus also recorded Laurie Quayle, son of Hannah Quayle, checking some of the earlier materials. He passed away in 1976, and with his death the language effectively became extinct. The materials by Hercus and Beckett have not yet been incorporated into the current data files.

Here is what page 1 of Wurm’s notes looks like:


I have processed this material using the Toolbox program to create a dictionary and set of glossed sentences. The dictionary contains examples drawn from the analysed sentences together with a listing by semantic domains and an English-Malyangapa finderlist. The structure of the data files and relationships between them are described in Austin (2002).

Here is a sample page from the dictionary:

Malyangapa is relatively closely related to the neighbouring Wadikali and Yardliyawarra languages forming with them the Yardli group (Austin & Hercus 2002). There is limited data on these other two languages, and it is planned in future to include this material for comparative purposes.

Sources of information on Malyangapa are:

  • Austin, Peter K. 2002. Developing Interactive Knowledgebases for Australian Aboriginal Languages — Malyangapa. Paper presented at EMELD workshop, 2003. http://emeld.org/workshop/2003/Malyangapa.pdf (accessed 2020-11-26)
  • Austin, Peter K. & Luise Hercus. 2004. The Yarli Languages. In Claire Bowern & Harold Koch. (eds.) Australian Languages: Classification and the comparative method, 207-222. John Benjamins.
  • Beckett, Jeremy & Luise Hercus. 2009a. The Two Rainbow Serpents Travelling: Mura Track Narratives from the ‘Corner Country’. Canberra: Australian National University Press.
  • Beckett, Jeremy & Luise Hercus. 2009b. Geographical names in the Two Ngatyi Stories. The Two Rainbow Serpents Travelling: Mura Track Narratives from the ‘Corner Country’. Canberra: Australian National University Press.
  • Morton, A. W. 1886. Near the North-west corner of New South Wales. In Edward Micklethwaite Curr (ed.) The Australian race: its origin, languages, customs, place of landing in Australia and the routes by which it spread itself over the continent. Volume 2, 158-161. Melbourne: John Ferrer, Government Printer.
  • Reid, James A. 1886. Torrowotto. In Edward Micklethwaite Curr (ed.). The Australian race: its origin, languages, customs, place of landing in Australia and the routes by which it spread itself over the continent. Volume 2, 178-181. Melbourne: John Ferrer, Government Printer.
  • Tindale, Norman Barnett. 1974. Maljangapa (NSW). Aboriginal Tribes of Australia: Their Terrain, Environmental Controls, Distribution, Limits, and Proper Names. Canberra: Australian National University Press.