Native toAustralia
RegionCape York Peninsula, Queensland
Extinctuncertain, 10 reported 1981[1]
not reported since[2]
  • Western Ayapathu
Language codes
ISO 639-3pkn
AIATSIS[2]Y64 Pakanh, Y181 Western Ayapathu
Coordinates: 14°30′S 142°25′E / 14.500°S 142.417°E / -14.500; 142.417
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Pakanha (Bakanha), or Ayabakan, is a nearly extinct Paman language spoken on the Cape York Peninsula of Queensland, Australia. In 1981, there were 10 speakers of the language, originally spoken by the aboriginal Pakanha people in the central part of the Cape York Peninsula.[1]



Pakanha has 5 vowel qualities:[3]

Short Long
Front Central Back Front Central Back
Close i /i/ u /u ~ ʊ/ ii /iː/ uu /uː/
Mid e /e ~ e̞/ o /o ~ ɔ/ ee /ɛː/ oo /oː/
Open a /a ~ ə/ aa /aː/


Pakanha has 15 consonants:[3]

Peripheral Laminal Apical Glottal
Bilabial Velar Palatal Dental Alveolar Retroflex
Plosive p /p/ k /k/ ch /c/ th /t̪/ t /t/ ' /ʔ/
Nasal m /m/ ng /ŋ/ ny /ɲ/ nh /n̪/ n /n/
Trill rr /r/
Approximant w /w/ y /j/ l /l/ r /ɻ /

Vocabulary/Topical Index

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (February 2011)

The following is a sample of words from a comparative wordlist/topical index produced by Philip Hamilton.[4] The Pakanha words are accompanied by corresponding words from the distantly related Uw Olkola and Uw Oykangand languages:

(P) = Pakanha, (Olk) = Uw Olkola, (Oyk) = Uw Oykangand.

The Body:

In popular culture

The Pakanha word for the eastern grey kangaroo, kucha, was used as the name of a tribe on the second season of the American reality television series, Survivor in 2001.[5]


  1. ^ a b Pakanha at Ethnologue (16th ed., 2009)
  2. ^ a b Y64 Pakanh at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies  (see the info box for additional links)
  3. ^ a b Hamilton, Philip (1998), Uw Oykangand and Uw Olkola Multimedia Dictionary, retrieved 20 January 2011
  4. ^ Hamilton, Philip (1998), Uw Oykangand and Uw Olkola Multimedia Dictionary, archived from the original on 23 March 2012, retrieved 22 February 2011
  5. ^ "Kangaroo". Archived from the original on 2012-10-17.