small vital languages

Claire Bowern clairebowern at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 23 12:50:17 UTC 2010

To add to the Australian comments:
Yolngu is about 8 languages (made up of more than 30 dialectal/clan
varieties), not just one language. Dhuwal has about 5000 speakers and
is healthy, Ganalbingu has many fewer but it also reasonably healthy;
same for Dhuwala and Rirratjingu, but there is convergence to Dhuwal
(Djambarrpuyngu) happening and most of the other varieties are
endangered or already gone.

Gurr-goni has about 60 speakers and has done for ages, and is still
being learnt by kids. Burarra has a couple of thousand.

Yindjibarndi is doing ok, I think. Under 1000 speakers though.
Walmajarri would go in this category too.

Murriny-Patha and Bininj Gun-wok both have substantial (by Australian
standards) numbers of speakers.

Ngarinyin is also ok for the moment, I think, though I'm not sure how
many kids are learning it.

Wati varieties are mostly still going strong.

A couple of Cape York languages are being learnt by kids, but I"m not
sure which ones or how many apart from Thaayorre and maybe Kuku


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