Bungandidj language

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RegionSouth-east South Australia
South-west Victoria
Extinct(date missing)
  • Southeastern
    • Victorian
      • Kulin–Bungandidj
        • Bungandidj
  • Bungandidj
  • Pinejunga
  • Mootatunga
  • Wichintunga
  • Polinjunga[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3xbg

Bungandidj is a language of Australia, spoken by the Bungandidj people, Indigenous Australians who lived in an area which is now in south-eastern South Australia and in south-western Victoria. According to Christina Smith and her book on the Buandig people, the Bungandidj called their language drualat-ngolonung (speech of man), or Booandik-ngolo (speech of the Booandik).[4] As of 2017, there is a revival and maintenance programme under way for the language.[5]

Historical variants of the name include: Bunganditj, Bungandaetch, Bunga(n)daetcha, Bungandity, Bungandit, Buganditch, Bungaditj, Pungantitj, Pungatitj, Booganitch, Buanditj, Buandik, Booandik, Boandiks, Bangandidj, Bungandidjk, Pungandik, Bak-on-date, Barconedeet, Booandik-ngolo, Borandikngolo, Bunganditjngolo, and Burhwundeirtch.


Bungandidj phonology is typical of Australian languages generally, sharing characteristics such as a single series of stops (no voicing contrast) at six places of articulation, a full corresponding set of nasals, laminals at all four coronal places of articulation and two glides.[6] Extrapolating from historical written sources and knowledge of surrounding languages, Blake posits the following consonant inventory:[6]


Peripheral Laminal Apical
Bilabial Velar Dental Palatal Alveolar Retroflex
Plosive p [p] k [k] th tj [c] t [t] rt [ʈ ]
Nasal m [m] ng [ŋ] nh ny [ɲ] n [n] rn [ɳ ]
Flap/Trill rr [r]
Lateral lh ly [ʎ] l [l] rl [ɭ ]
Approximant w [w] y [j] r [ɻ ]


Front Central Back
Close i [i] u [u]
Open a [a]

Notes on orthography[edit]

  • Early descriptions of Bungandidj made no distinction between the trill/flap /r/ and approximant /ɻ/ and evidence for this contrast is based on comparative evidence only. Blake transcribes both as <r>.[6]
  • Although there is no voicing distinction, stops are transcribed with voiced symbols <b, g, dh, d, rd> in homorganic nasal-stop clusters (where voicing is expected).[6]
  • Syllable-final palatals are transcribed with the digraphs <yt, yn, yl> to avoid a final -y being confused with a vowel.[6]
  • Historical sources include five vowel graphemes including <e> and <o>, however it is likely that <e> belongs to the /i/ phoneme and <o> belongs to the /o/ phoneme. However, Blake conservatively retains some <e> and <o> segments where they are consistently transcribed in this way across historical sources.

A poem[edit]

Smith (1880), on pages 138–139, records a poem written in Bungandidj :[4]

yul-yul, thumbal (Fly beetle, bat, night)
kallaball, moonarerebul (Fly, march-fly, beetle)
nana nan molanin (parrot, little parrot.)
korotaa, king nal (wattle bird,)
yongo birrit. (minah bird.)


  1. ^ Dixon, R. M. W. (2002). Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development. Cambridge University Press. p. xxxv.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Bunganditj". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ S13 Bungandidj at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
  4. ^ a b Christina Smith, The Booandik Tribe of South Australian Aborigines: A Sketch of Their Habits, Customs, Legends, and Language, Spiller, 1880
  5. ^ Monaghan, Paul (2017). "1. Structures of Aboriginal life at the time of colonisation in South Australia". In Brock, Peggy; Gara, Tom (eds.). Colonialism and its aftermath: A history of Aboriginal South Australia (PDF). Extract, pp.i-xxiii. Wakefield. p. 17. ISBN 9781743054994.
  6. ^ a b c d e Blake, Barry J. (2003). The Bunganditj (Buwandik) language of the Mount Gambier region. Australian National University. Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University. ISBN 9780858834958. OCLC 56054287.