Y57: Wik Mungkan

AIATSIS code: 
AIATSIS reference name: 
Wik Mungkan


Thesaurus heading language
Thesaurus heading people
ABN name
Wik-Mungkan language
ABS name
Wik Mungkan
Horton name
Wik (Mimungkum/Wik-Mungkana)
Ethnologue name
ISO 639-3 code
Tindale name
Wikmunkan, Mimungkum
Tindale (1974)
Munkanj (valid variant), Munkan, Munkanu (Aja-batha term), Munkanj (Gilbert River term), Monkanu, Munggano, Wikmungkan, Wikmungken, Wik Mongkan, Wik Monkan, Wik-Mungken, Wik-Mongken, Munggan ['mungkan]-hill or mountain in several languages.
O'Grady et al (1966)
Wik Mungkan
Other sources
Wik-Mungknh [Alpher PMS 6101] Wik-Mungknh (the name Wik-Mungknh people use themselves), Mungkañ (Kuuk-Thaayorre and Yir-Yoront name) [Alpher 2006.p.c.] Wik Munkan, Wik-Mungkana, Wik-Mungkanha, Mungkanhu [Sutton 1978:38]
Wik Mungknh, Wik Munkan, Wik, Mimungkum/Wik Mungkana, Wikatinda, Wik Ompom, Wikampama, Wik Kalkan, Wik Ngathara, Wik Epa, Wikepa, Wik Meanha, Wikmean, Wiknatanja, Mimungkum, Wik Mungkana, Wiknantjara, Anja, Ayan, Badjimu, Monkanu, Mugola, Munggan, Munggano, Mungkan, Munkan, Munkanj, Munkanu, WikHungkan, Wik Mongkan, Wik Monkan, Wik Mongken, Wik Munggan, Wik Mungkanh, Wik Mungken, Wika Munkan, Wikmungkan, Wikmungken, Wikmunkan, Woran am, Wik Mungknh hill, Munggan (Wik-)

Wik Mungkan is unique on the western side of Cape York with its translation 'language-eat', although this is more common on the eastern side. It is the lingua franca and first language for many people at Aurukun.

See also Wik-Me'anh, Wik-Keyangan Y173, Wik-Iinychany Y54, Wik-Iiyanh Y177 Y172, Kugu-Muminh Y43, Kugu-Uwanh Y176, Kugu-Mu'inh Y224, all translated as 'language-go'; Wik-Ngatharr Y51 and Wik-Ngathan Y54 mean 'language-mine' (Sutton, 1991:58-61).

This language belongs to a genetic language family (shared origins) which includes: Wik-Iiyanh Y177 and Y172; Wik-Ngathan Y54 and Y56; Wik-Ngatharr Y51; Wik-Ep Y52; Wik-Me'anh Y53; Wik-Keyangan Y173; Mungkanho; Kugu-Uwanh Y176; Kugu Muminh Y43; Kugu-Ugbanh Y175 and Kugu-Mu'inh Y53 (Sutton, 1993:32).


  • Kilham, Christine A., Mabel Pamulkan, Jennifer Pootchemunka, and Topsy Wolmby. 1986. Dictionary and source book of the Wik-Mungkan language. Darwin Summer Institute of Linguistics.
  • Sutton, Peter. 1991. Language in Aboriginal Australia: social dialects in a geographic idiom. In Language in Australia, ed. Suzanne Romaine, 49-66 (Chapter 42). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Sutton, Peter. 1993. Material culture traditions of the Wik people, Cape York Peninsula. In Records of the South Australian Museum; v. 27 no. 1, pp. 31-52.
  • Sutton, Peter. 1995. Country: Aboriginal boundaries and land ownership in Australia. Canberra: Aboriginal History Inc.
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

The boundary of their tribal territory extends to the coast at a couple of places, at Eramangk and at the mouth of the Archer River. It touches the Watson River in the north, and extends to the Kendall River in the south. Rokeby Station is usually considered the eastern limit (Kilham 1977:1). The estates of Wik Mungkan-owning clans are, in fact, discontinuously distributed, falling into at least three areas separated by the estates of clans owing other languages. One Wik Mungkan-affiliated estate is on the coast just south of Cape Keerweer, another is on the coast just south of Know River, and others lie along certain inland stretches of the Archer, Love, Kirke and Know Rivers (Sutton 1995:135). Contemporary location: The majority of Wik-Mungkan people today live at Aurukun. (Kilham, Pamulkan, Pootchemunka & Wolmby 2011)


Bible translation work has been carried out by Scripture Gift Mission, Bible Society in Australia and Wycliffe Bible Translators.SIL produced several materials mid-70's.

Ken Hale, Sandra Keen, Christine Kilham, Michael Winnington Martin, Barbara Sayers, Peter Sutton
Indigenous organisations: 
Year Source Speaker numbers

Speaker numbers were measured differently across the censuses and various other sources listed in AUSTLANG. You are encouraged to refer to the sources.

Speaker numbers for ‘NILS 2004’ and ‘2005 estimate’ come from 'Table F.3: Numbers of speakers of Australian Indigenous languages (various surveys)' in 'Appendix F NILS endangerment and absolute number results' in McConvell, Marmion and McNicol 2005, pages 198-230 (PDF, 2.5MB).

Type Documentation Status Documentation Score
Word list Large (more than 200 pages) 4
Text Collection Large (more than 200 pages) 4
Grammar Large grammar (more than 200 pages) 4
Audio-visual More than 10 3
Manuscript note: 
tape transcription/field note available

Kilham, Christine. 1977. Thematic organization of Wik-Munkan discourse: Pacific Linguistics B52. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.


Kilham, Christine, Pamulkan, Mabel, Pootchemunka, Jennifer, and Wolmby, Topsy. 1986. Dictionary and source book of the Wik-Mungkan language. Darwin:SIL.

Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005) Pama-Nyungan Paman Middle Pama Wik-Mungkan  
Dixon (2002)   NORTH CAPE YORK SUBGROUP* Wik subgroup* Wik-Mungknh (Wik-Munkan) Wik-Mungknh (Wik-Munkan) further dialect: Wik-Iiyanh (=Wik-Iiyenj, =Wik-Iiyanji, = Mungkanhu)
Wurm (1994) Pama-Nyungan Paman   Wik-Mungkana  
Walsh (1981) Pama-Nyungan Paman Middle Pama Wik-Mungkana (Wik-Munkan)  
Oates (1975) Pama-Nyungan   Middle Pama Wik Munggan  
Wurm (1972) Pama-Nyungan Pama-Maric Middle Pama Wik Munkan (Wik Mungkan)  
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Pama-Nyungan Pama-Maric Middle Pama Wikmunkan