Gogodala - Orientation

Identification. The Gogodala live in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea. Earlier names for them were based on misunderstandings of a term for "language" or "speech" ( girara ) or the name of a small creek, "Kabiri." The basis for the name Gogodala is not known.

Location. A few Gogodala villages are found on the north bank of the Fly River, but most are located along the Aramia River, a major tributary of the Bamu. The region, at approximately 8° to 8° 15′ S and 142°30′ to 143° 15′ E, is largely one of flat, swampy floodplain with numerous meandering water-courses; alternating mixed woodland and grassland are punctuated with low hillocks and ridges where settlements are placed. During the wet season (December-May) about 75 percent of the annual rainfall of 216 centimeters occurs and most of the area turns into a vast sea, with canoes as the only means of mobility among the hillocks that form islands in it. Bird life and wild game (including wallabies, cassowaries, and wild pigs, with some deer found nowadays) are abundant, as are mosquitoes.

Demography. Population estimates have changed Somewhat since significant European contact began after the turn of the twentieth century, with a low of 5,000 proposed in 1916 and about 7,000 Gogodala speakers currently recognized.

linguistic Affiliation. Gogodala is a Non-Austronesian language, the only other member of its family being Ari-Waruna, which is understood but not spoken by Gogodala. Linkages with peoples of the Fly River are indicated by the joining of Gogodala with Suki as a separate stock in the Trans-New Guinea Phylum. Currently, most Gogodala also speak Tok Pisin, and many are fluent in English.

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