Wiradjuri language

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Region New South Wales
Ethnicity Wiradjuri people
Native speakers
30 (2005) to 100 (2006 census)[1]
  • Wirraayaraay (Wiraiari)
  • ? Jeithi
Language codes
ISO 639-3 wrh
Glottolog wira1262[2]
Wiradhuric languages.png

Wiradjuri (/wəˈræəri/;[3] 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.[4][5]


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.[6]


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,[7] 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.[8][9] A mobile app based on the book is also available for iOS, Android and a web based version.[10]



Labial Dental Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar
Stop b̥ (b) d̪ (dh) d̥ (d) ɟ̥ (j, dy) g̥ (g)

ŋg̥ (ngg)

Nasal m n̪ (nh) n ɲ (ny, yn) ŋ (ng)
Lateral ɭ (l)
Rhotic r (rr)
Approximant w ɻ (r) j (y)


Front Back
Close ɪ~i (i) ʊ (uu)
Open a~æ (a) ɑ (aa)
Long iː (ii, ee, yi) uː (o, u, wuu)

Vowel combinations; /aay/, /ay/, are pronounced /aɪ/ and /æĭ/ as followed.[11]

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 aboriginal language is thought to mean crow. To create the plural, the Wiradjuri repeat a word, thus 'Wagga Wagga' translates to 'the place of many crows'.[citation needed]


  • Animals: Gidyira, Balugan
  • Animals (male): Wambi
  • Animals (Female): Gunal
  • Baby (chicken or Pup): Mangga
  • Bandicoot, Long Nosed: Gurawang, Guyand, Gurang
  • Bat: Ngarradan
  • Bats and Birds (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
  • Kangaroo (Red, Female): Bandhaa
  • Koala: Burrandhang
  • Kookaburra: Gugubarra
  • Magpie: Garuu
  • Owl: Ngugug
  • Platypus: Biladurang
  • Possum: Wilay
  • Snake: Gadi
  • Sugar Glider: Gindaany
  • Swan: Dhundhu
  • Wild Cat: Mabi, Babila, Mugiiny-mabi
  • Wombat: Wambad


Ngawa: Yes (Pronounced ŋa-wa)
Wiray: No (Pronounced ɥi-ɾe)
Gunya: Home (Pronounced gu-ɲa)
Walang: Money/Pebbles (Pronounced wa-laŋ)


  • 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


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


Yamandhu marang? Are you well?
Ngawa baladhu marang. Yes I’m well.
Marang nganha. That’s good.


  • One: Ngumbaay
  • Two: Bula
  • Three: Bula Ngumbaay
  • Four: Bula Bula
  • Five: Marra


  • Dancing: Waganha
  • Digging: Wangarra
  • Laughing: Gindanha
  • Swimming: Bambinya

Body parts[edit]

  • Hand and is also the number five: Marra
  • Backside: Bubul


  1. ^ a b Wiradjuri at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Wiradhuri". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ "Wiradjuri". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ Dixon, R. M. W. (2002). Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development. Cambridge University Press. p. xxxiv. 
  5. ^ There is quite some confusion over the names Wirraayarray, Wiriyarray, and Wirray Wirray. See AIATSIS:Wirraayaraay.
  6. ^ How a language transformed a town
  7. ^ Wiradjui Dictionary, Stan Grant (SNR) and Dr John Rudder, 2010
  8. ^ ABC news interview with Grant
  9. ^ Hansard of Parliament of New South Wales, Daryl Maguire & Barry Collier, 12 November 2010
  10. ^ "Wiradjuri Dictionary - RegenR8". Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  11. ^ "Wiradjuri language, alphabet and pronunciation". Omniglot. Retrieved 2017-03-04. 


  • 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]