In this book we attempt to establish the genetic relatedness of a set of
some twenty named regional speech varieties of the Northern Kimberley
region of Western Australia. We argue that, contrary to recent claims by
some scholars, they constitute a genetic family-like unit. The case is
argued by application of the comparative method, along with a
lexical-statistical method, a modified version of lexicostatistics, that
compares lexical similarities (in both form and semantics) within the basic
vocabularies of the languages with no presumption of genetic relatedness.
The results of these two independent methods are in substantial agreement,
thus providing independent support for our proposals. The main thrust of
the volume is an application of the comparative method, whereby we
establish the genetic relatedness of the languages by reconstructing
features—mainly phonological and grammatical, to a lesser extent lexical—of
a protolanguage from which features of the modern languages could plausibly
have derived. We also present comparative evidence that three primary
subgroups can be distinguished in the family.