Indigenous language link reveals common ancestor—21 March 2018

New research supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Projects scheme has found a ground-breaking link between Australian Indigenous languages, demonstrating for the first time that all Indigenous languages descend from one common ancestor.

The unprecedented finding sheds new light on the origins of Australian language and has significant implications for the cultural history of Australia.

The result of a collaboration between the University of Newcastle (UON) and Western Sydney University (WSU), the finding is the first time the theory that all Australian languages derive from one language, Proto-Australian, has been proven.

UON Chief Investigator and historical linguist, Associate Professor Mark Harvey, said the finding was an exciting culmination of a three-year project, which he hoped would enhance the understanding of Australian and human history.

“Until now, it was speculated that Australia was significantly more linguistically diverse than somewhere like Europe, because it had not been proven that all Australian languages actually stemmed from the same lineage.

The researchers plan to publish a book on Proto-Australian and collaborate with other disciplines to inform what is known about the prehistory of Australia.

Media issued by the University of Newcastle.


Image: map of mainland Australia showing Australian language families. Image by Kwamikagami.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Original Published Date: 
Wednesday, March 21, 2018