Usually a synonym for Australian Aboriginal languages (q.v. for a fuller treatment), but strictly speaking there are some non-Aboriginal native languages in Australia.

The Torres Strait Islanders, who live on a small number of islands between Queensland and Papua New Guinea, are ethnically and linguistically Papuan. There is no similarity between their languages and those of the rest of Australia.

The Tasmanians were destroyed by genocide before their languages could be accurately recorded. It is believed there were several distinct languages on the island, and although what is recorded of them is insufficient to be sure, there is no clear evidence of any link between them and Aboriginal languages. In any case, the opening of Bass Strait had sealed them off from the mainland for so long that no genetic relationship between the languages would be evident. Joseph Greenberg has connected Tasmanian with Papuan and Andamanese into a phylum he calls Indo-Pacific.

There are currently 3 known non-Aboriginal Australian languages:


A creole language spoken by very many Aboriginal Australians throughout the continent with considerable variation. It has only recently been recognized as a true language in its own right. There are an estimated 30,000 Kriol speakers. It is also known as Roper River Creole and its SIL language code is ROP.

Torres Strait Creole

Another creole language spoken widely throughout the Torres Strait by both the ethnically Australian and Papuan peoples, as well as in areas where islanders have migrated to on the mainland. It is also known as Yumiplatok, Cape York Creole, Torres Strait Broken, and just plain Broken (short for broken English). There are estimated to be over 20,000 speakers. Its SIL language code is TCS.


The sole Papuan language of Australia. It was spoken in the eastern Torres Strait, chiefly in Murray Island. The people living in these islands are ethnically Papuan and the language is related to languages of the Fly River area of Papua New Guinea but is not spoken there. The number of speakers is in decline as the language is being replaced by Torres Strait Creole and only has a few hundred remaining speakers. It is also known as Miriam, Meryam; Mer, Mir, and combinations thereof (Meriam etc meaning Murray Island, Mer/Mir meaning language). Its SIL language code is ULK.

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