Numbers - Background information

Here is some information about numbers in Gamilaraay (GR) and Yuwaalaraay (YR) (GY). Numeracy as we are used to in the 21st century is of course different from traditional times.

It has frequently been written that Aboriginal languages count “one, two, three, four, many” and do not have more numbers. However, it has also been pointed out many times that this is false (see Norris 2016).

Current GR and YR numbers

This document explains the current system we use, and how it was developed and standardised.
Download: gy-numbers_jg-hs.pdf


This is from the 18th-19th century settler-explorer Alfred William Howitt's observations about counting systems in Aboriginal communities of south-east Australia. He describes how messengers used message sticks and their bodies for counting.
Download the chapter here: Howitt_Kamilaroi_Messengers-and-counting_1904.pdf

Photo by Unknown author - State Library of New South Wales, DL PXX 3, Public Domain,