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Noongar maya waangkiny kaadidjiny (Noongar sound speaking understanding)

"Why reviving Indigenous languages is so important". This is an article by Wakka Wakka woman Annalee Pope about why she wants to bring her language back - "Today my language is sleeping, in the future my language will be awake".[1] Her language journey began as coordinator of the Central Queensland Language Centre:

"When I started the job it was intimidating. I could not speak my language, and it seemed like such a big task for one person because the role supported 11 languages throughout the region. I met people from across Australia who were doing the same work, and I realised I was not alone."[1]

2019 is the UN Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL 2019).[2] The Australian Government Department of Communications and the Arts has a web site with links to see indigenous language activities and to register your own events.[3]

The little words are important![edit]

wer - and; ba (southern - kongal-boyal - dialect)
  • Linking words giving location, direction of movement, etc. - prepositions
il - on, in, to
  • Words standing in for nouns - pronouns (for example in English, the sentence "That reminds me of something" has three pronouns)
yennar - all, every
keny - one
karro - more
nidja - this (as in "this tree", on its own in English this is a pronoun, as in "do this")

NoongarPedia pages on Noongar words[edit]

Modern Noongar dialect groups[4][edit]

There may have been up to 15 dialects of the Noongar language at the time of European settlement.

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

  • Noongar LOTE[5]
  • 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: 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.[6]

The Noongarpedia accomodates these different spellings in a page title by using redirects, so there should be just one page on one topic. If a second page is started because the author did not discover the first page because it was spelt differently, the content of the second page should be merged into the first page and the second page should then be made a redirect to the first page. If the page spelling is correct and in common use by some group (i.e. it is not a typo) then the Noongarpedia accepts that spelling and does not change the page name to any standard spelling. Hence the general rule is that a page keeps the spelling of the first page created on that topic. Alternative spellings should however be given in the first paragraph on the page.

Hello - Goodbye[edit]

Kaya - hello
Djinang moorditj - take care (lit. look strong), boordawan djinang - see you later


  1. keny,[7] keyen[8] - one (sometimes there is more than one Noongar dialect word for something in English)
  2. koodjal - two
  3. mau,[7] dambart[8] - three
  4. koodjal koodjal - four, as in Koodjal Koodjal Djookan (Four Sisters)
  5. maar - five
  6. maar-keny, maar-keyen - six
  7. maar-koodjal - seven
  8. maar-mau, maar-dambart - eight
  9. maar-koodjal-koodjal - nine
  10. maar-maar - ten

Words standing in for people, animals and things[edit]

baal - he, she or it
baalap - they, theirs
ngalak - we
noonook - you; nyoondok (southern dialect)
ngany - I

Noongar Our Way[edit]

Nidja publication is to help people learn Noongar Language[9]. "Noongar Our Way" is a Noongar language learning kit. It provides nine lessons with written texts wer matching audio provided il cassette tape. The Noongar language was used by different mobs, who had their own dialects, so sometimes there is more than one Noongar word for something.

‘Unit One’ models Noongar language in a question wer answer format as dialogue in examples such as:

 Q. Winja Noonook koorliny 
 (where you going?)
 A. Ngaitj kaarlak koorliny.   
 (I home going)

Noongar education groups have suggested using a similar question wer answer format, wer a variety of sentences of dialogue that might be used in classroom language activities. For example, at the end of the school day:

 Teacher: Windja nyoondok koorliny 
 (where you going)
 Students: Ngaitj (ngarlak) kaarlak koorliny. 
 (I/we home going)
 Teacher: Boordawan djinang 
 (later see)
 Students: Boorda 

Mount Lockyer Primary School’s Dreamtime Committee has also recommended a range of greetings wer farewells that might be introduced into classrooms:

Greetings etc

 Q. Yaarn 
 (how you going)
 A. ngayn moorditj  (I/me strong)
 (I/me strong)
  • Alternatives:
minditj (sick)
winyarn (weak)
karang (angry)
good (kwop)
 Boordawan djinang  
 (later… see)
 Ngan kwel 
 (My/me name)
 Q. Windja noonook nyin?  
 (Where you sit/live)
 A. Ngayn Perth nyininy      
 (me Perth sitting/being)
 Q. Ngiyan noonook moort?  
 (Who you family)
 A. Ngan moort X         
 (my family X) 


Noongar – our way (kit)[9]

Noongar Waangkiny: a learner’s guide to Noongar[10]

Nyungar Nyinalanginy Wangkininy (Nyungar Language Conference). At Wellington Mills, February 1990[6]

see also[edit]

Ngiyan waarnk - References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Annalee Pope "Why reviving Indigenous languages is so important". ABC Life. 21 February 2019. Retrieved 23 February 2019
  2. "IYIL 2019". 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages. Retrieved 23 February 2019
  3. "2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages". Australian Government, Department of Communications and the Arts. Retrieved 23 February 2019
  4. Noongar Dialects. Noongar Boodjar Language Cultural Aboriginal Corporation. 2017. Retrieved 21 March 2018
  5. Noongar > Word Cards. LTA Education. Retrieved 21 March 2018
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Nyungar Nyinalanginy Wangkininy (Nyungar Language Conference)". Wellington Mills, 12 - 14 February 1990. Archived 10 September 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2019
  7. 7.0 7.1 Bernard Rooney (2011). "The Nyoongar Legacy". Batchelor Press. ISBN 978 174131 232 4
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Counting in Noongar". The Year 3/4 Smarties. 31 August 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2018
  9. 9.0 9.1 Wooltorton, Sandra et al. Noongar – our way (kit). Part 1. Noongar Tradition. Bunbury: Noongar Language and Cultural Centre, c.1992 pp.****
  10. Noongar Boodjar Language Centre, Noongar Waangkiny: a learner’s guide to Noongar. Batchelor, NT: Batchelor Press, 2014 pp.9-11.