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An Australian language, of the Pama-Nyungan family, spoken (or once spoken) in southern Queensland in the area north of the towns of Charleville and Mitchell. It can also be spelt Pitjara, and has closely related dialects called Gungabula and Wadyigu, among others.

See under Australian Aboriginal languages for an overview; I present Bidyara as a typical Aboriginal language, and the only one for which I have details to hand. The study I am using was made by Gavin Breen in 1967-1972, when the surviving speakers were elderly.

Its sound system is typical for an Aboriginal language. Its consonants B DH D RD DY G could equally well be written P TH T RT TY K. The sound D is alveolar as in English; DH is interdental, that is similar to Spanish or French T and D but the tongue is between the teeth; and RD is a retroflex stop as occurs in Indian languages.

The same distinction between interdental and alveolar occurs in NH and N; there is also a palatal NY and a velar NG. The single R represents a glide as in English, and RR is a flap. There are three vowels A I U.

Bidyara has SOV word order:

ngurrandu waya    badhala
dog       wallaby bite
'The dog bit the wallaby'

It is ergative, meaning it is the subject of a transitive sentence that is specially marked.

mardindu ngurra badhala
man      dog    bite
'The man bit the dog'
cf.
ngurra warraana
dog    play
'The dog is playing'
In these the -ndu marks the ergative.

But pronouns and some kinship terms are not marked for ergative. Instead they may take the accusative -na.

ngaya ngurra badhala
'I bit the dog'
ngurra ngadyuna badhala
'The dog bit me'
Other cases indicate various functions, such as:
Locative for indefinite location:
bala-nga = 'on (my) leg'
gambi-nga = 'beside/with the woman'
gunda-nga = 'in the night'

Purposive:
ngaya gamu-gu wadyana = 'I am going for water'
yurdi ngurran-gu = 'meat for the dog'
and for definite location:
ngaya baga-gu walabanala = 'I sat in the tree'

Ablative:
ngaya mardi-mundu dhulbanala = 'I hid from the man'
dhala-mundu = '(made} out of bushes'
munda-mundu = '(away) from the snake'

Adjectives and nouns can be formed with -bayi 'having', which is also a case form: wudya-bayi 'with a lot (of)', gaba-bayi 'with some honey', yarraman-bayi 'on horseback', dhunman-bayi 'muddy'.

The pronouns are singular ngaya 'I', yinda 'you', nhula 's/he, it; in the dual ngali 'we two', yubalu 'you two', bula 'they two'; and in the plural ngana 'we', yura 'you', dhana 'they'.

These have inflections like nouns (but partly irregular): ngadyuna 'me', ngadyu 'my', ngadyunda 'with me', ngadyunmundu 'from me'.

The plain form of the verb is the simple imperative: naga 'watch'. There is also a continuous imperative naga-ni 'keep watching', a weaker form naga-dhu 'you'd better watch', and a dual/plural form naga-ra 'watch'. There is also an optional plural affix, as in naga-lgarri 'you lot watch', naga-lgarri-ni 'you lot keep watching'.

The tense is also marked by suffixes: badhana 'bites', badhala 'bit', badhanga 'will bite'.

The purposive verb form is better illustrated in a sentence:

ngadyunda baru gumbama, ngaya burdi bandya-lgu
to-me     axe  lend     I     wood  chop-PURPOSIVE
'Lend me an axe so that I can chop wood.'

A simple sentence does not require a verb 'to be': ngaya guliginy 'I am old'. The suffix -langa indicates an impermanent state: yamba dhundha-langa 'the ground is wet'.

Continuative states are formed by prolonging the final vowel before the tense suffix:
warrala 'played', warraala 'was playing'
nagana 'sees', nagaana 'is looking at'

There is another suffix meaning the action moves along:
ngarrgu dhumbala 'the kangaroo jumped'
ngarrgu dhumba-ndyarra-la 'the kangaroo hopped along'

There are some optional affixes when the object is dual or plural, one for sense verbs and one for others.
ngaya yura-na yimba-la = 'I heard you'
ngaya yuranya-na yimba-rda-la = 'I heard you lot'
ngaya ngarrgu guni-la = 'I killed a kangaroo'
ngaya ngarrgu guni-ma-la = 'I killed kangaroos'

This is enough to begin to convey the grammatical complexity and the sounds of the average Aboriginal language.

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