I really shouldn’t go to the Strand; every time I do, I spend money. But if I didn’t, I wouldn’t find things like the first two volumes of Dixon and Blake’s Handbook of Australian Languages at a ridiculously low price. The first volume includes descriptions of Guugu Yimidhirr (also called “Koko Yimidir” and other variants; the name means ‘this way of talking, this kind of language,’ guugu being the word for ‘talk, language’), Pitta Pitta, Gumbaynggir, and Yaygir; the second includes Wargamay, Anguthimri (Mpakwithi dialect), Watjarri, Margany and Gunya (closely related Maric dialects), and a final, sad chapter describing the exiguous information available about the long-extinct languages of Tasmania. Most chapters include detailed descriptions of phonology, morphology, and syntax, as well as the all-important texts and vocabularies. I’ve always been fascinated by Australian languages, but all I’ve had to go on so far is the Lonely Planet Australian Phrasebook; excellent as that little volume is, this opens up a whole new realm.

First sentence of first Guugu Yimidhirr text: Yii milbi dhana gunbu dumbi ‘This is a story (milbi) about how they had a great dance’: “The expression gunbu dumbil, literally ‘dance break’, is the normal idiom for ‘have a dance, have a corroborree.'” I can’t wait to dive in.


  1. Will you please post a picture of your library? I’ve got to see this!

  2. Oh, and another thing. Now that you’re six months old, maybe it’s time for a monthly archive, rather than weekly! Easier to navigate! Of course, you may have your reasons…

  3. Thanks for the heads-up; I just made the adjustment in my Settings, and we’ll see if it shows up on the page.

  4. Hey, it worked! Hope everyone’s happier now. We aim to please here at LH…

  5. Guugu Yimidhirr well known, of course, as the source of the word ‘kangaroo’.

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