Wiradjuri language

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RegionNew South Wales
EthnicityWiradjuri people
Native speakers
30 (2005)[1]
  • Wirraayaraay (Wiraiari)
  • ? Jeithi
Language codes
ISO 639-3wrh
Wiradhuric languages.png

Wiradjuri (/wəˈræʊri/;[4] many other spellings, see Wiradjuri) is a Pama–Nyungan language of the Wiradhuric subgroup. It is the traditional language of the Wiradjuri people of Australia. A progressive revival is underway, with the language being taught in schools. Wiraiari and Jeithi may have been dialects.[5][6]


The Wiradjuri language is taught in primary schools, secondary schools and at TAFE in the towns of Parkes and Forbes with the students being both indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.[7] As of 2017 the language is also being taught in Young where it has been observed as having a positive impact on the number of pupils self identifying as Aboriginal.[8]


The process of reclaiming the language was greatly assisted by the publication in 2005 of A First Wiradjuri Dictionary by elder Stan Grant Senior and consultant Dr John Rudder. John Rudder described the dictionary: "The Wiradjuri Dictionary has three main sections in just over 400 B5 pages. The first two sections, English to Wiradjuri, and Wiradjuri to English, have about 5,000 entries each. The third sections lists Names of Things grouped in categories such as animals, birds, plants, climate, body parts, colours. In addition to those main sections the dictionary contains an introduction to accurate pronunciation, a basic grammar of the language and a sample range of sentence types." A revised edition,[9] holding over 8,000 words, was published in 2010 and launched in Wagga Wagga, with the launch described by the member for Wagga Wagga to the New South Wales Parliament.[10][11] A mobile app based on the book is also available for iOS, Android and a web based version.[12]



Peripheral Laminal Apical
Labial Velar Dental Palatal Alveolar
Stop b ɡ ɟ d
Nasal m ŋ ɲ n
Lateral l
Rhotic r
Approximant w j ɹ


Short Long
Close ɪ
Open ə
Back ʊ ~


Sample vocabulary[edit]

"Wagga Wagga"[edit]

Route 41 Wagga Wagga sign (Mills St)

The Aboriginal inhabitants of the Wagga Wagga region were the Wiradjuri people and the term "Wagga" and derivatives of that word in the Wiradjuri language is thought to mean 'crow'. To create the plural, reduplication is done, thus "Wagga Wagga" translates to "the place of many crows".[citation needed]


English Wiradjuri
animal (in general) gidyira, balugan
animal (male) wambi
animal (female) gunal
baby (chicken or pup) mangga
bat ngarradan
bat/bird (in general) budyaan
bilby ngundawang, bilbi, balbu, barru
brushtail possum (male) gidyay
brush-tailed rock-wallaby wirrang, barrbay
bunyip waawii seema
butterfly budyabudya
cattle gurruganbalang
cockatiel guwariyan
common wallaroo walaruu, yulama
dingo yugay, warragul, dinggu, dawarang, garingali (female)
dog mirri
echidna wandayali, wandhayirra, ganyi, ginaginbaany, guwandiyala, wambiyala
emu dinawan
frog gulaangga
horse yarraman
horse (stallion) yindaay
kangaroo wambuwany
koala burrandhang
kookaburra gugubarra
long-nosed bandicoot gurawang, guyand, gurang
magpie garuu
owl ngugug
platypus biladurang
possum wilay
red kangaroo (female) bandhaa
snake gadi
sugar glider gindaany
swan dhundhu
quoll mabi, babila, mugiiny-mabi
wombat wambad


English Wiradjuri
mother gunhi
father babiin
son wurrumany
sister (older) mingaan
sister (younger) minhi
brother (older) gaagang
brother (younger) gagamin
girl migay
boy birrany
baby gudha
grandmother badhiin, baaydyin


English Wiradjuri
one ngumbaay
two bula
three bula ngumbaay
four bungu, bula bula
five marra[a]
six marra ngumbaay
seven marra bula
eight marra bula ngumbaay
nine marra bungu
ten marra marra, dyinang


English Wiradjuri
backside bubul
chest birring
eye mil
hand marra[a]
testicles buurruu, garra
  1. ^ a b These two words share the same meaning.


English Wiradjuri
to dance waganha
to dig wangarra
to laugh gindanha
to swim bambinya


English Wiradjuri
yes ngawa
no wiray
home gunya
money/pebbles walang



English Wiradjuri
What's your name? Widyu-ndhu yuwin ngulung?
My name is James. Yuwin ngadhi James.
Who's this one? Ngandhi nginha?
This is mother. Nginha gunhi.


English Wiradjuri
Are you well? Yamandhu marang?
Yes, I'm well. Ngawa baladhu marang.
That's good. Marang nganha.


  1. ^ "Wiradhuri". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2018-06-10.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Wiradhuri". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Wiradjuri at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
  4. ^ "Wiradjuri". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. ^ Dixon, R. M. W. (2002). Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development. Cambridge University Press. p. xxxiv.
  6. ^ There is quite some confusion over the names Wirraayarray, Wiriyarray, and Wirray Wirray. See AIATSIS:Wirraayaraay.
  7. ^ How a language transformed a town
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Wiradjui Dictionary, Stan Grant (SNR) and Dr John Rudder, 2010
  10. ^ ABC news interview with Grant
  11. ^ Hansard of Parliament of New South Wales, Daryl Maguire & Barry Collier, 12 November 2010
  12. ^ "Wiradjuri Dictionary - RegenR8". Retrieved 2016-09-29.
  13. ^ Grant; Rudder, Stan; John (2010). A New Wiradjuri Dictionary.


  • Günther, James (1892). "Grammar and Vocabulary of the Aboriginal dialect called Wirradhuri". In Fraser, John. An Australian Language. Sydney: Government printer. pp. 56–120 of appendix.
  • Hale, Horatio (1846). "The languages of Australia". Ethnography and philology. Vol VI of Reports of the United States Exploring Expedition, under the command of Charles Wilkes. New York: Lea and Blanchard. pp. 457–531.
  • Hosking, Dianne; McNicol, Sally (1993). Wiradjuri. Panther Publishing.
  • Mathews, R. H. (Jul–Dec 1904). "The Wiradyuri and Other Languages of New South Wales". The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 34. 34: 284–305. doi:10.2307/2843103. JSTOR 2843103.
  • McNicol, Sally; Hosking, Dianne (1994). "Wiradjuri". In Nick Thieberger, William McGregor. Macquarie Aboriginal Words. Sydney: Macquarie Library. pp. 79–99.

External links[edit]