Woiwurrung language

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Region Victoria
Ethnicity Wurundjeri
Extinct (date missing)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 wyi
Glottolog woiw1237[2]
Kulin Map.PNG
The five Kulin nations. Woiwurrung is in yellow.
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.
Marn grook football, played by speakers of Woiwurrung from the Wurundjeri clan, c. 1857.

Woiwurrung (sometimes spelt Woiwurrong, Woiworung, Wuywurung) is an Indigenous Australian language spoken by the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation of Central Victoria, from Mount Baw Baw in the east to Mount Macedon, Sunbury and Gisborne in the west. The language remains, but is not widely known or spoken due to the impact of colonisation.

The Woiwurrung clans inhabited the Yarra River, called Birrarung in Woiwurrung, before European displacement. The clans include:

  • The Wurrundjeri-willam, who occupied the Yarra River and its tributaries and inhabited the area now covered by the city of Melbourne. Referred to initially by Europeans as the Yarra tribe.

Wurundjeri is a common term for remnant descendants of all the Woiwurrung tribes who were forced together for the survival of their race. Their totems are Bunjil the eagle and Waa the crow.

LISTED BELOW ARE ALL THE TRIBAL TERRITORIES OF THE WOI-WURRUNG LANGUAGE NATION. Each tribe has is own distinct territory and boundary usually determined by waterways.

Wurundjeri Willam

Gunung Willam Balluk

Talling Willam

Kurung Jang Balluk

Marin Balluk

Wurundjeri Balluk

Balluk Willam

The Jindyworobak Movement claimed to have taken their name from a Woiwurrung phrase jindi worobak meaning to annex or join.


Peripheral Laminal Apical
Bilabial Velar Palatal Dental Alveolar Retroflex
Plosive b/p ɡ/k ɟ/c d̪/t̪ d/t ɖ/ʈ
Nasal m ŋ ɲ n ɳ
Lateral l ɭ
Rhotic r ɽ
Glide w j

It is not clear if the two rhotics are trill and flap, or tap and approximant.


In the case of the Woiwurrung pronouns, the stem seems to be the standard ngali (you and I), but the front was suffixed to wa-, so wa+ngal combines to form wangal below.

Singular dual plural
1st person inclusive wa.ŋal wa.ŋa.ɲin
1st person exclusive wan wa.ŋan wa.ŋa.ɲi.ɲu
2nd person war wa.bul wat ɡu.ra.bil(.la), wat ba.lak, wat wu.ɾun.ðu
3rd person mu.ɲi mu.ɲi ɡa.ra.bil ma.lu ɡu.ra.bi.la

Translation of the words

  • Wangal = you and I
  • Wangan = we two
  • Munyi gurrabil = they two
  • Munyi gurrabila = they

Other vocabulary[edit]

  • Nillumbik = poor soil / hard land
  • Wominjeka = hello / welcome
  • yabber = to talk
  • Yarra-yarra = rivers

See also[edit]


  1. ^ R. M. W. Dixon, Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development: v. 1 (Cambridge Language Surveys). Cambridge University Press, 2002. ISBN 978-0-521-47378-1
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Woiwurrung". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Woiwurrung at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
  • Barry J. Blake. 1991 Woiwurrung In: The Aboriginal Language of Melbourne and Other Sketches, ed. R. M. W. Dixon and Barry J. Blake, pp. 31–124, OUP, Handbook of Australian Languages 4.

External links[edit]