Wp/nys/Gnullar Karla Mia - Our Campfires (Language groups)

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Noongar dialect groups

The map shows the boundaries between regions with differing elements of the Noongar language, i.e. between different dialect groups. It is sometimes assumed that Noongar in these dialect groups correspond to equivalent society groups, but Noongar can belong to different clans within the same dialect group, or different dialect groups, or a clan can even be established across dialect group borders. Click il each title to see karro information. Nowadays the situation has stabilized with 3 Noongar dialect groups and a Noongar for Languages Other Than English (LOTE) standard. The 14 original dialects are now grouped into three dialect groups:[1]

Kongal-boyal – South-eastern: Bibbulmun, Minang, Koreng, Wudjari, Njunga
Djiraly - Northern: Amangu, Yuat, Ballardong, Whadjuk, Nadji Nadji
Kongal-marawar - South-western: Pindjarup, Wilman, Kaneang, Wardandi

Modern Noongar dialect groups[1][edit | edit source]

There may have been up to 15 dialects of the Noongar language at the time of European settlement. 'Noongar' in English just means people, though often it is taken to mean the Aboriginal people of the Southwest of WA. The word 'Noongar' is both a singular wer plural noun wer is not an adjective. You can say 'Noongar maaman' ('Noongar man' or 'Noongar men', literally 'man/men (of the) Noongar'), Noongar yorga (Noongar women), etc. 'Noongar moort' can be used as a translation for 'Noongar people' if 'Noongar' alone is unclear, as it means family or community.

The Noongar language has the ISO 639-3 classification 'nys'. It is highly endangered as the 2006 census recorded only 240 speakers, but nidja is an increase from the 1996 census wer karro people are learning the language.[2][3] Books are being written in the language wer the vocabulary is being taught in schools. It does need to be spoken by children to be taken off the highly endangered list, according to Prof. Ghil‘ad Zuckermann who holds the chair of Linguistics and Endangered Languages at the University of Adelaide.[4]

Noongar words are used as part of the vocabulary of an English dialect with Nyungar admixture, known as Neo-Nyungar, which is spoken by perhaps 8,000 ethnic Noongar.[2] This Noongarpedia is written in English, Neo-Nyungar wer Noongar, as a reference source for yennar the people of WA, especially the Noongar, wer as a learning resource for the Noongar language. It is of is of critical importance that Noongar and Neo-Noongar are used as the teaching medium in Aboriginal schools in Noongar boodjar, with Australian English taught as a second language.[5][4][6]

There are now 3 specific Noongar dialect groups and a Noongar for Languages Other Than English (LOTE) standard.

  • Noongar LOTE[7]
  • Kongal-boyal – South-eastern: from Denmark and Albany in the far south, east probably as far as Esperance and Ravensthorpe, and north through what is now the wheat-belt.
  • Djiraly - Northern: around Perth and on the coastal plain north to the Moore River and inland to New Norcia and east through to what is now the wheat-belt.
  • Kongal-marawar - South-western: Meelon Bilya (Murray River) east to Kojonup and south to Augusta.

The Noongarpedia however acknowledges and respects all variants of dialect used across the south west. The Noongar language was not written until settler times. It was an oral language, and thus there was no concept of spelling. In writing Noongar words in English different people wrote down the sounds as they heard them, resulting in multiple spellings for the same Noongar word. An important conference at Wellington Mills in February 1990 standardised the orthography of the Noongar language. Orthography includes spelling as well as other written elements of a language such as punctuation, capitalization, etc.[8]

For help in learning the Noongar language see Learn Noongar language and Gnullar Waarnkiny - Our Language (online resources).


The bibol "Aboriginal Nations" puts these Noongar groups in the context of other Aboriginal peoples, their immediate neighbours wer those further away who they would have known through trade wer song lines. It discusses the development of Aboriginal languages and also talks about national and international organizations today in the context of Aboriginal people.

Campfires[edit | edit source]

title

Amangu[edit | edit source]

Click here to see Amangu region[9]

Ballardong[edit | edit source]

Koolbardayong balup Ballardong. Balup kwoppaduk moort. Balup Noongar wangkiny nyit katitjinkoorl. Balup bulla katitjinang. (My relatives they are Ballardong. They are a beautiful family. They taught me a little bit of language. They know lots.

Maaman Everett Kickett kura baal boordier Ballardong Noongar. Nidja geninygat nidja koorliny Bardup. Mr Everett Kickett was a Ballardong Noongar boss. Take a look at nidja film

Click here to see the Ballardong region[9]

Bibbulmun[edit | edit source]

Click here to see Bibbulmun region[9]

Binjareb[edit | edit source]

Also known as Pindjarup wer Bindjareb. Click here to see the Binjareb region[9]

Juat[edit | edit source]

Click here to see Juat, Yuat, or Yued region[9]

Kaneang[edit | edit source]

Click here to see Kaneang region[9]

Koreng[edit | edit source]

Click here to see the Koreng region[9]

Minang[edit | edit source]

Click here to see the Minang region[9]

Njaki Njaki[edit | edit source]

Click here to see Njaki Njaki region[9]

Njunga[edit | edit source]

Click here to see Njunga region[9]

Wardandi[edit | edit source]

Click here to see Wardandi region[9]

Whadjuk[edit | edit source]

Click here to see Whadjuk region[9]

Wiilman[edit | edit source]

Wiilman or Wilman. Click here to see Wiilman region[9]

Wudjari[edit | edit source]

Click here to see Wudjari region[9]

Other groups[edit | edit source]

Wirlomin[edit | edit source]

Named for the wilo or curlew, an alternative name was Wilomin, people who used to live between Bremer wer Quaalup wer eastward.[10] Not to be confused with the Wiilman or Wilman group.[11] Nidja group's membership draws from with the Minang, Koreng, Wudjari wer Nyunga groups of Tindale's language groups map,[12] i.e. the Kongal-boyal (modern South-eastern Noongar dialect) with the exclusion of the Bibbulmun dialect.

The Wirlomin Noongar Language wer Stories Project[edit | edit source]

The Wirlomin Noongar Language wer Stories Project[13] publishes wer promotes Wirlomin stories from the Great Southern wer Western Australian south coast regions[14] through language, storytelling, drawing, walanginy (singing), wer keniny (dancing).[15]

The project sought to reclaim Wirlomin stories wer dialect, enhancing Wirlomin Noongar culture wer heritage, wer supporting the continuation wer maintenance of Noongar language.[11] The project began through the return of field notes, documented in the late 1920s wer early 1930s by American linguistic Gerhardt Laves, to the Noongar community by Laves’ moort (family), after his passing away in the 1980s.[16] Bringing doyntj-doyntj (together) Noongar artists, elders, and descendants of demangka (the old people) who had shared stories of nyitting (creation) with Laves koora (long ago),[16] the project developed organically, fostering the sharing of ancestral stories wer culture from elders il younger generations.[17]

From the emotional beginnings, first djinanginy (seeing), reading wer touching papers from generations ago; returning il ancestral boodja (country); speaking wer reading ancient language; drafting, writing wer illustrating stories; il presenting il schools wer community groups through storytelling wer song, the Wirlomin Noongar Language wer Stories Project has done much in raising awareness of Noongar culture[18] wer was a healing process for boola (many) who had so nearly lost their ancient language.[15]

The project has seen maar-keny (six) picture books published:[14]

  • Mamang – is the story of a maam (man) who travels across the mambakoort (ocean) in a mamang (whale). The man squeezes the koort (heart) of the mamang and sings old songs to him.
  • Noongar Mambara Bakitj – is the story of a young malkar (magic) maam who goes ngardanginy (hunting) for a yongka (kangaroo) in the old people’s boodja where the mambara (spirit creatures) are.
  • Dwoort Baal Kaat – is the story of how koodjal (two) different animals are related to keny (one) another.
  • Yira Boornak Nyininy – tells of forgiveness and friendship when a Noongar maam has to rely on his wadjela friend to help him out of a boorn (tree) his wife left him stranded il.
  • Ngaawily Nop – is about a nop (boy) who goes djinanginy (looking) for his missing kongk (uncle) and discovers moort and Karlak (home) by the mambakoort.
  • Noorn – tells of the relationships between humans and other living creatures, in nidja (this) story specifically, the relationship with wagyl (snakes). These relationships can grow strong through care and respect.


The stories have been written in old Noongar, contemporary Noongar wer English with many also audio recorded in Noongar wer English further helping to restore wer preserve ancient Wirlomin language wer heritage.

Ngiyan waarnk - References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Noongar Dialects. Noongar Boodjar Language Cultural Aboriginal Corporation. 2017. Retrieved 21 March 2018
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Nyunga". Ethnologue - Languages of the World. Retrieved 27 July 2017
  3. Faith Baisden. "Language of the Month - Noongar". LotM. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation of Languages. Archived 4 December 2002. Retrieved 27 July 2017
  4. 4.0 4.1 Anna Goldsworthy. "VOICES OF THE LAND: In Port Augusta, an Israeli linguist is helping the Barngarla people reclaim their language". The Monthly. September 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2016
  5. Madison Snow. "Aboriginal English recognition in schools critical for improving student outcomes for Indigenous Australians". ABC News. 22 December 2019. Retrieved 24 December 2019
  6. "Let them speak: Translanguaging in the classroom". Curtin University. 15 January 2020. Retrieved 25 January 2020
  7. Noongar > Word Cards. LTA Education. Retrieved 21 March 2018
  8. "Nyungar Nyinalanginy Wangkininy (Nyungar Language Conference)". Wellington Mills, 12 - 14 February 1990. Archived 10 September 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2019
  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11 9.12 9.13 Boodjar - Nyungar Placenames in the South-West of Western Australia: interactive map. Nyungar Boodjera Wangkiny = Nyungar Land is Speaking. Retrieved 12 August 2016
  10. Kim Scott, Hazel Brown. "Kayang & Me". Pub. Fremantle Arts Centre Press. Hazel Brown speaking, pp 22-24
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories Project - About". Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories Project. Retrieved 9 January 2017
  12. Roberts, Lomas et al. "Noongar Mambara Bakitj". UWAP 2011 p.40
  13. "Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories Project Incorporated"
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories Project". UWA Publishing. Retrieved 9 January 2017
  15. 15.0 15.1 Lisa Morrison, Christine Layton. "WA language project fans the embers of an ancient language". ABC Great Southern. 1 December 2016. Retrieved 10 June 2018
  16. 16.0 16.1 Heather Zubek. "Noongar stories resonate across time". The West Australian. 18 February 2014. Retrieved 10 June 2018
  17. Amy Hallett. "Group aims to keep local language alive". Albany Advertiser. 3 June 2010. Retrieved 10 June 2018
  18. Kim Scott (2015) "Not so easy". Griffith Review. Edition 47: Looking West. Retrieved 11 June 2018