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Ndjébbana language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

RegionNorthern Territory
Native speakers
367 (2021 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3djj

The Ndjébbana language, also spelt Djeebbana and Ndjebanna and also known as Kunibidji (Gunavidji, Gunivugi, Gombudj), is a Burarran language spoken by the Gunavidji (Ndjebbana) people of North-central Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory of Australia.

"Gunavidji" (and variant forms) is an exonym used by speakers of Kunbarlang, Kunwinjku and Maung languages.[3]



Peripheral Laminal Apical
Labial Velar Palatal Alveolar Retroflex
Plosive b~p k ɟ~c d~t ɖ~ʈ
Nasal m ŋ ɲ n ɳ
Rhotic ɾ~r ɻ
Lateral l ɭ
Approximant w j
  • Sounds /b, ɟ, d, ɖ/ may also be heard as voiceless [p, c, t, ʈ] when in word-final position or when preceding other stop consonants. They may also occur as geminated, where they are always pronounced as [pː, cː, tː, ʈː].
  • /ɾ/ can be heard as either a flap [ɾ] or a trill [r].
  • /k/ can be heard as [ɣ] in intervocalic position or when followed by a liquid sound.
  • /b/ can be heard as [β] when in intervocalic position.


Front Central Back
High i ʊ ʊː
Mid ɛ ɛː ɔ ɔː
Low a
  • Vowels /ɛ, a, ɔ, ʊ/ may have a [ɪ] vowel off-glide heard as [ɛᶦ, æᶦ, ɔᶦ, ʊᶦ], when preceding a laminal-palatal consonant.[4]
Phoneme/Sound Allophones Notes
/i/ [i] [ɪ] Is heard when in lax or unstressed positions.
/ɛ/ [ɛ] [e] Can also be heard when before a laminal-palatal consonant or a semivowel.
/a/ [ä] [æ] May also be heard when following a laminal-palatal consonant.
/ɔ/ [ɔ] [o] Can also be heard when in stressed positions.
/ʊ/ [ʊ] [u] Is always heard when in word-final position.


  1. ^ "SBS Australian Census Explorer". Retrieved 12 October 2023.
  2. ^ N74 Ndjébbana at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
  3. ^ N74 Ndjebanna at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
  4. ^ McKay 2000.

Further reading[edit]

  • Auld, Glenn. 2002. The role of the computer in learning Ndjébbana. Language learning and technology 6(2): 41-58.
  • Auld, Glenn. 2002. Computer assisted Ndjébbana. Practically Primary 7(3): 20-22.
  • Auld, Glenn. 2005. The literacy practices of Kunibídji children: Text, technology and transformation. PhD thesis, University of Ballarat.
  • Capell, Arthur. 1942. Languages of Arnhem Land, North Australia. Oceania, 12 (4), 364-392.
  • Elwell, Vanessa. 1977. Multilingualism and lingua francas among Australian Aborigines: A case study of Maningrida. Honours Thesis, Australian National University.
  • Elwell, Vanessa. 1982. Some social factors affecting multilingualism among Aboriginal Australians: a case study of Maningrida. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 36: 83-103.
  • Green, Rebecca. 2003. Proto Maningrida within Proto Arnhem: evidence from verbal inflectional suffixes. In N. Evans (ed.), The non-Pama-Nyungan languages of Northern Australia: comparative studies of the continent's most linguistically complex region (pp. 369–421). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  • Handelsmann, Robert. 1996. Needs Survey of Community Languages: Central Arnhem Land, Northern Territory (Maningrida and Outstations). Report to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, Canberra.
  • Jones, Peter. 1987. The Kunibidji Bilingual Program Handbook. Maningrida School: Maningrida.
  • Maningrida CEC's Literature Production Centre, 2009. My own Ndjébbana dictionary : a b d dj e i k l m n ng nj o r rd rl rn rr u w ya. Winnelie, N.T.: Maningrida CEC.
  • McKay, Graham R. 1984. Stop Alternations in Ndjébbana (Kunibidji) + Comments on Waters' Comments on Gemination in Rembarnga. Pacific Linguistics. Series A: Occasional Papers.
  • McKay, Graham R. 1996. Body parts, possession marking and nominal classes in Ndjébbana. In H. Chappell and W. McGregor (eds) The Grammar of inalienability : a typological perspective on body part terms and the part-whole relation. Berlin; New York : M. de Gruyter. pp. 293–326.
  • McKay, Graham. 2000. Ndjébbana. In R.M.W. Dixon & B.J. Blake (eds), The handbook of Australian languages: Volume 5 (pp. 155–354). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.