Kala Lagaw Ya

Kala Lagaw Ya is a mixed language with a Pama-Nyungan base and Papuan and Austronesian overlays. It is spoken by about 4,000 people on the Western and Central Torres Strait Islands between Papua New Guinea and the mainland of Australian. It is one of the few Australian languages with the sounds /s/ and /z/, and voiced-voiceless distinctions.

There are a number of different orthographies Kala Lagaw Ya. Some were developed by different missionaries, starting in the 1870s. Others were devised by linguists during the 20th century.

a) Mission/Cambridge Reports
a, ă, ­ā, b, d, dth, e, ĕ, ē, g, i, ĭ, ī, k, l , m, n, ng, o, ŏ, ō, ò, ö/ë/oe/œ, p/f, r, s/ch, t, th, u, ŭ, ū, w, y, z/j

Diphthong glides : -i, -u (ai, ei, òi, öi, ui; au, eu, iu, ou, öu)

b) Bani-Klokheid
a, aa, b, d, dh, e, ee, g, i, ii, k, l, m, n, ng, o, oo, oe, ooe, p, r, s, t, th, u, uu, w, y, z

Diphthong glides : -y, -w (ay, aay, ey, eey, oy, ooy, oey, ooey, uy, uuy; aw, aaw, ew, eew, iw, iiw, ow, oew, ooew)

c) KKY
a, b, d, dh, e, g, k, l, m, n, ng, o, oe (œ), p, r, s, t, th, u, w, y, z

Diphthong glides : -y, -w (ay, ey, oy, oey/œy, uy; aw, ew, iw, ow, oew/œw)

d) Mixed – a dominating tendency to use the KKY orthography, and to mark the glides as in the Mission script.

e) Manuscript Dictionary
a, á, b, d, dh, e, é, g, i, í, k, l, m, n, ng, o, ó, ò, œ, p, r, s, t, th, u, ù, ú, w, y, z

Diphthong glides : if phonological consonants - -y, -w; if phonological vowels - -i, -u

Kala Lagaw Ya pronunciation

Kala Lagaw Ya vowels

Vowel length is only overtly marked in two of the orthographies, and sporadically so in the others.

In long diphthongs the first vowel is pronounced long. Vowel length in diphthongs is only overtly marked in one of the orthographies, and sporadically so in the others.

Download an alphabet chart for Kala Lagaw Ya (Excel)

Information compiled by Rod Mitchell

Sample text in Kala Lagaw Ya

Kulay daparaginga, nubi arkathagina, mura zaginga, kasa Awgadh meparuy. Awgadhan kulay dapar aymoedhin wagel nabi arkath, nabi arkath kulay kawaginga, a boeradharaginga, kasa malu. Senabi malu koey gubalnga na koey inuralnga. Wa Awgadhaw maygi mari nanga mulaydhin gimia, nuydh wayadhin nungu woenab nanga, Awgadh kedha mulaydhin, "Buya nagi". Kalanu buya mekath asidhin. Awgadhan imadin matha ngoedhagidh, kalanu dhadhia madhin, buya inurngu. Nuydh buya nel tharan goeyga, inur nel tharan kubil. Kubil nanga muasin nanga goeyga mangiz sena urapun goeyga.


In the beginning God created heaven and earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep water. The spirit of God was hovering over the water. Then God said, "Let there be light!" So there was light. God saw the light was good. So God separated the light from the darkness. God named the light "day", and the darkness he named "night". There was evening, then morning, the first day.

Source: http://www.language-museum.com/k/kala-lagaw-ya.htm

Information about Kala Lagaw Ya | Tower of Babel in Kala Lagaw Ya


Information about the Kala Lagaw Ya language

Pama-Nyungan languages

Alyawarr, Arrernte, Bundjalung, Dharawal, Dhuwal, Diyari, Djinang, Djinba, Gamilaraay, Gooniyandi, Gugadja, Guugu Yalandji, Guugu Yimithirr, Kala Lagaw Ya, Kalkatungu, Kaurna, Kuku Nyungkal, Kunjen, Kuuk Thaayorre, Martu Wangka, Ngaanyatjarra, Ngiyambaa, Nhangu, Noongar, Paakantyi, Pintupi, Pitjantjatjara, Warlpiri, Wemba Wemba, Wik-Mungkan, Wiradjuri, Yankunytjatjara, Yindjibarndi, Yolŋu

Languages written with the Latin alphabet

Page last modified: 23.04.21


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