2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages: Word of the Week – Week Thirteen.

As part of State Library’s commitment to the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages, we will be promoting a ‘word of the week’ from one of the 125+ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and dialects from across Queensland.

State Library’s IYIL2019 Word of the Week: Week 13.

This week’s word is koowookara [pronounced koo-woo-kah-ra], from the Biyay language of North Queensland, particularly the region around Halifax Bay and Lucinda Point – it is sourced from an 1887 wordlist collated by Curr in his publication The Australian race: its origins, languages, customs, place of landing in Australia and the routes by which it spread itself over that continent.

“Halifax Bay” in Curr (1877)

E M Curr sent a request for everyday Aboriginal words and phrases via newspapers and through Government Officials, Pastoralists etc. and compiled these into a tome of work published as The Australian race: its origins, languages, customs, place of landing in Australia and the routes by which it spread itself over that continent.

“Halifax Bay” wordlist in Curr (1877).

In some cases Aboriginal informants are named; often attribution is only given to the collector of the wordlist. James Cassady was an Irish pastoralist who held several properties in North Queensland, including Fairview Station on the Lower Herbert from 1876-1879.

Biyay is also known as Bijai, Bandjin and also Wargamaygan which reflects its’ close connection to the Wargamay language to the north near Caldwell and Hinchinbrook Island. Biyay is undergoing an active community language revival; the North Queensland Regional Aboriginal Corporation Language Centre supports language communities across the region.

State Library of Queensland invites you to celebrate the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages as we raise awareness of the rich diversity of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.

Join the conversation as we post a new word for each week!

Week Thirteen 26March-1 April 2019.

#IYIL2019 #IYIL #IY2019WordoftheWeek #SLQIndigenousLanguages

 

Desmond Crump

Indigenous Languages Coordinator, State Library of Queensland

State Library of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Webpages

State Library of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Map

UN IY2019 Links

UN International Year of Indigenous Languages webpages

UN International Year of Indigenous Languages Resources

References

The word of the week has been sourced from the following item in the State Library collections.

Source: Cassady, J. “Halifax Bay” in Curr, E. M. (1887) The Australian race: its origins, languages, customs, place of landing in Australia and the routes by which it spread itself over that continent. RBJ 572.994

Images are also drawn from the “Halifax Bay” wordlist in the above text.

Further Reading

Other materials in the State Library collections relating to Biyay and neighbouring languages include the following:

Brayshaw, H. (1990) Well-beaten paths: Aborigines of the Herbert-Burdekin, North Queensland. G 306.0899915 1990

Dixon, R.M.W. (1981) “Wargamay” in Dixon, R. and Blake, B. (Eds) (1981) Handbook of Australian Languages. Vol 2. G 499.15 1981 also available online via One Search.