The historical record for Gathang language is, unfortunately, not particularly large in quantity or high in quality. Conversely, there are many place names in Gathang country in use in modern times, more than is usually found in NSW.
Several people recorded the language in the 1900s, with varying degrees of accuracy. In 1887 Curr published the earliest word list, compiled by John Branch. Enright wrote a description of the language and wordlist published in 1900. In 1929, the American linguist Gerhardt Laves worked with Charlie Briggs, Bill Dungie, Charlie Bugg, Jim Moy, Albert Lobban, Hannah Bugg, Susna Russell, Ted Lobban, Mrs Russell, Laves’ work is in the form of unpublished field notes.
In 1961 an unknown compiler worked with Jim Davies. The linguist Nils Holmer made audio recordings in the 1960s with Eddie Lobban and Fred Bugg. From this he compiled a grammar, a wordlist and also published traditional and non traditional stories.
Following consultation with Gathang community groups and individuals, Muurrbay-MRALC linguist Amanda Lissarrague analysed the data from these and other sources, and we published A grammar and dictionary of Gathang: the language of the Birrbay, Guringay and Warrimay in 2010.This provides a collection of all that is known about Gathang language at this point, a standardised writing system and will serve as a reference for the production of teaching and learning materials.
The main published texts are:
Branch, J 1887 “No 186: Port Macquarie” in EM Curr (ed.), The Australian Race. Melbourne: John Ferres, Government printer, 3:338-350.
Elkin, AP 1932 “Notes on the Social Organisation of the Worimi, A Kattang-Speaking People”. In Oceania, 2(3), 359-63.
Enright, WJ 1900 “The language, weapons and manufactures of the Aborigines of Port Stephens, NSW”. In Journal of the Royal Society of NSW, 34:103-18.
Enright, W J.1933. “Social Divisions of the Birripai”. In Mankind 1(5):102.
Holmer, N 1966, An attempt towards a comparative grammar of two Australian languages, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra.
Holmer, N. 1967. An attempt towards a comparative grammar of two Australian languages, Part 2 Indices and vocabularies of Kattang and Thangatti, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra.
Holmer, NM & Holmer, V, 1969, Stories from two native tribes of eastern Australia, Carl Bloms Boktryckeri, Lund.