University of Melbourne
Nyulnyul, the traditional language of Beagle Bay (towards the northern tip of the Dampier Land peninsular, West Kimberley, Western Australia) and environs, is a moribund state, with a single full speaker, and ten or so part speakers. It is a nonPamaNyungan language, one of approximately a dozen members of the Nyulnyulan family. Phonologically it is reasonably typical of an Australian language, distinguishing seventeen consonants and three vowels, each with contrastive length. Like all other nonPamNyungan languages of the region, Nyulnyul has two types of verbal construction: simple and compound. Simple verbs consist of an inflecting verb root which carries pronominal prefixes crossreferencing the subject and indicating tense; aspectual suffixes and pronominal enclitics crossreference the object and indirect object. Compound verbs consist of an invariant preverb followed by an inflecting simple verb. Around fifty nominals, mainly terms for parts of the body, take prefixes indicating the inalienable possessor of the part.
The sketch is based primarily on material gathered by the author over the past eight years from Mary Carmel Charles, the last remaining speaker.
ISBN 9783895860003. Languages of the World/Materials 88. 68pp. 1996.