Our project concentrates on the Murriny Patha (Murrinh-patha) language. All Aboriginal people living in Wadeye speak Murriny Patha which is used as a lingua franca thoughout the region. Murriny Patha along with the neighbouring Ngan’gityemerri is classified as a Southern Daly language (Green 2003, Reid & Green 2005). It is a non-Pama-Nyungan polysynthetic language.

M. Dungoi, E. Cumaiyi, D. Narbarup, L. Tcherna and Joe Blythe during a language documentation session, 2005. Photo: Mark Crocombe.

Linguists such as Michael Walsh and Chester Street have published many important works about Murriny Patha language (see references). Walsh is one of our project Chief Investigators. Project postgraduate student Joe Blythe is completing a doctoral thesis on conversational analysis and reference tracking in Murriny Patha. Other project linguists Lysbeth Ford and Nick Reid have expertise in neighbouring languages also spoken at Wadeye, such as Marri Ngarr, Marri Tjavin, Marri Amu, Magati Ge (Ford) and Ngan'gikurunggurr and Ngen'giwumirri (Reid). For further information about languages spoken around Wadeye see Ford & Klesch 2003 and Ford & McCormack 2006 (References).

For writing down Murriny Patha language we have developed our own project orthography that we use for project publications. For community use we adopt the orthography used by the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart School in Wadeye.