Apparently pre-colonial New South Wales had 200 languages, that is, according to NSW Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Paul Lynch. It seems a few too many to me, given that best estimates (from linguists and anthropologists, not politicians) count somewhere between about 250 and 400¹ languages for the entire country, mostly concentrated in the north.

I’m all for greater recognition of the diversity and complexity of Australian languages, but let’s not have so much hyperbole.

~

¹The variation in figures depends on where you draw the line between language and dialect, and even then there are problems; dialect chains, lack of data and so on.