small vital languages

Stef Spronck stephan.spronck at ANU.EDU.AU
Fri Dec 24 00:08:15 UTC 2010

Dear all,

Just to briefly comment on the status of Ngarinyin: it has been 
estimated at up to 100 speakers, but I haven't met a single semi-speaker 
under 45, and kids certainly don't learn the language anymore. The only 
age group to still actively use the language is formed by a handfull of 
speakers of the oldest generation, so I'm afraid that Ngarinyin would 
not qualify as one of the small but vital languages of Australia.


On 12/23/2010 11:50 PM, Claire Bowern wrote:
> 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
> Yalanji.
> Claire

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