Southern Daly languages

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Southern Daly
(generally accepted)
Daly River region, northern Australia
Linguistic classificationA proposed primary family of Australian languages.
Daly languages.png
The Daly languages (color), among the other non-Pama-Nyungan languages (grey)

  Southern Daly languages. Murrinh-patha is on the coast, Ngan’gityemerri in the interior.

The Southern Daly languages are a proposed family of two distantly related Australian aboriginal languages. They are:


Southern Daly is a distant and problematic relationship. Murrinh-Patha was once thought to be an isolate, due to lexical data: It has, at most, an 11-percent shared vocabulary with any other language against which it has been compared.[2] However, Murrinh-patha and Ngan’gityemerri correspond closely in their verbal inflections. Green (2003) makes a case that the formal correspondences in core morphological sequences of their finite verbs are too similar (in their complexities and their irregularities) to have come about through anything other than a shared genetic legacy from a common parent language.[3] Nonetheless, lexically they have almost nothing in common, other than cognates in their words for 'thou' (nhinhi and nyinyi) and 'this' (kanhi and kinyi),[4] and it is not clear what could explain this discrepancy.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Southern Daly". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Reid, N.J. Ngan’gityemerri. Unpublished PhD thesis, Australian National University, Canberra, 1990.
  3. ^ Green, I. "The Genetic Status of Murrinh-patha" in Evans, N., ed. "The Non-Pama-Nyungan Languages of Northern Australia: comparative studies of the continent’s most linguistically complex region". Studies in Language Change, 552. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, 2003.
  4. ^ Note that Ngan’gityemerri has no nh, and so one would expect it to have ny where its relatives have nh.
  • Tryon, D. T. (1968). "The Daly River languages: a survey". Papers in Australian Linguistics. 3: 21–36.
  • Tryon, D. T. (1974). Daly family languages, Australia. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.