Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Gamilaraay language

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Ethnicity  Gamilaraay people
Gamilaraay language
Region  Central northern New South Wales
Extinct  "recently extinct" as of 2007
Revival  37 speak mixed Gamilaraay–English (2006 census)
Language family  Pama–Nyungan Wiradhuric Gamilaraay
Dialects  Gamilaraay Yuwaalaraay Yuwaaliyaay (Euahlayi) Gunjbaraay Gawambaraay Wirray Wirray (Wiriwiri) Walaraay

The Gamilaraay or Kamilaroi (see below for other spellings) language is a Pama–Nyungan language of the Wiradhuric subgroup found mostly in south-east Australia. It was the traditional language of the Kamilaroi people, but is now moribund—according to Ethnologue, there were only 35 speakers left in 2006, all mixing Gamilaraay and English. However, there are thousands of people of mixed descent both within the native populations as well as immigrant populations, who identify themselves as Kamilaroi. Kamilaroi is also taught in some Australian schools.



The name Gamilaraay means gamil-having, gamil being the word for "no". Other dialects and languages are similarly named after their respective words for "no". (Compare the division between Langue d'oïl and Langue d'oc in France, distinguished by their respective words for "yes".) "yaama" means "hello".

Spellings of the name, pronounced [ɡ̊aˌmilaˈɻaːj] (listen) in the language itself, include:

  • Camilaroi
  • Kamalarai
  • Kamilaroi
  • Gamilaraay
  • Gamilaroi
  • Dialects

  • Yuwaalaraay
  • Yuwaaliyaay (Euahlayi)
  • Gunjbaraay
  • Gawambaraay
  • Wirray Wirray (Wiriwiri)
  • Walaraay
  • History

    Southern Aboriginal guides led the surveyor John Howe to the upper Hunter River above present-day Singleton in 1819. They told him that the country there was "Coomery Roy [=Gamilaraay] and more further a great way", meaning to the north-west, over the Liverpool Ranges (see O'Rourke 1997: 29). This is probably the first record of the name.

    A basic wordlist collected by Major Thomas Mitchell in February, 1832 is the earliest written record of Gamilaraay.

    The Presbyterian missionary William Ridley studied the language from 1852 to 1856.


    /wa/ is realized as [wo].


    Initially, /wu/ and /ji/ may be simplified to [u] and [i].


    All long vowels in a word get equal stress. If there are no long vowels, stress falls on the first syllable.

    Secondary stress falls on short vowels which are two syllables to the right or to the left of a stressed syllable.

    Gamilaraay words in English

    Several loanwords have entered Australian English from Gamilaraay, including:


    Gamilaraay language Wikipedia