Strait Talk

This page is going to a work in progress, and no doubt painfully slow at that.

I aim to record my endeavour to learn ‘Language’ as the Indigenous People call their own tongue up here, as well as their slang and Creole.

Torres Strait Islanders have a distinct culture which has slight variants within each island or community. Being sea-faring people, and engaged in trade with people of Papua New Guinea, their culture is complex, with some Australian elements, some Papuan elements, and Austronesian elements.

There are actually two distinct languages spoken throughout the Torres Strait

  • Kalaw Lagaw Ya, Kalau Kawau Ya, Kulkalgau and Kawalgau Ya, which are all dialects of the Western-central Torres Strait Language (Kala Lagaw Ya). These are spoken on the southwestern, western, northern and central islands. These are related to Aboriginal languages.
  • Merian Mir, related to Papuan languages, is spoken on the eastern islands.

However there is also a third, vernacular lingo here, a Creole.

Language                                              Translation

  • Wis Way      This literally means ‘which way’ but is used as a greeting
  • Wa                Yes
  • Yawwu         Bye
  • Esso            Thanks
  • Bala             Brother (it’s men who are mates say to each other)
  • Aunty          Respectful title for an older woman
  • Uncle           Respectful title for an older man
  • Youpla         You all (as a group of like minded, friends and family)

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