A sample text of Murrinh-Patha. (Photo courtesy of Language Museum)
La Cañada High School

Murrinh-Patha: A language feature

Murrinh-Patha is an Australian language that belongs to the Southern Daly language family, which is also known as Garama, Karama and Nangu, according to Endangered Languages.

Murrinh-Patha has three dialects: Murrinh-kura, Murrinh-patha, and Murrinh-rdiminin according to Endangered Languages.

Murrinh-Patha means “language good,” and is “spoken around Wadeye (western coast of the Northern Territory) and along the Fitzmaurice River by more than 1500 speakers, including those people who use it as a second language,” according to Omniglot.

In the area where Murrinh-Patha is spoken, it is the lingua franca.

According to Omniglot, It is used in the local bilingual education program as the language of instruction and is “one of the few Aboriginal languages to have gained speakers recently.”

“Murrinhpatha word structure is highly complex, and quite distinct from the better-known Pama-Nyungan languages of central and southern Australia,” according to De Gruyter.

According to a paper written by Andy Butcher, Murrinh-Patha has “long and flat” consonants. What this means is that these consonants have six phonetic articulation spots.

“There are no phonemic fricatives” in Murrinh-Patha according to a paper written by John Basil Mansfield.

These are two specific aspects of the Murrinh-Patha that I found to be absolutely intriguing and captivating. I find it interesting that the consonants are referred to as “long and flat,” and the fact that there are six specific phonetic articulation spots that the language uses.

I am also slightly disappointed that there are no phonemic fricatives, because fricatives are some of my favorite sounds ever. Whenever I learn about a language’s phonology and learn that it has fricatives, I become quite excited.

I am glad that I had a chance to learn about Murrinh-Patha. While it can get very complicated and tricky at times, I am now fascinated by another beautiful language that deserves more attention and love.