Woiwurrung–Daungwurrung language

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EthnicityWoiwurrung, Wurundjeri, Taungurung, ?Ngurelban, etc.
  • Woiwurrung
  • Daungwurrung
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
wyi – Woiwurrung
dgw – Daungwurrung
AIATSIS[2]S36, S37
Kulin Map.PNG
The five Kulin nations. Woiwurrung proper is in yellow, Daungwurrung (Taungurung) is in the northeast in green.
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.
Marn grook football, played by speakers of Woiwurrung from the Wurundjeri clan, c. 1857.
Building signage says Welcome - Wominjeka
Welcome sign on Medley building, University of Melbourne

Woiwurrung (sometimes spelt Woiwurrong, Woiworung, Wuywurung) and Daungwurrung (Taungurong, Dhagung-wurrung, Thagungwurrung) are an Aboriginal language of the Kulin Nation of Central Victoria. Woiwurrung was spoken by the Woiwurrung and related peoples in the Yarra River (Birrarung) basin, and Daungwurrung by the Taungurung people north of the Great Dividing Range in the Goulburn River Valley around Mansfield, Benalla and Heathcote. They are often portrayed as distinct languages, but they were mutually intelligible.[3] Ngurai-illamwurrung (Ngurraiillam) may have been a clan name, a dialect, or a closely related language.[4]


The following is the Woiwurrung dialect:

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. Vowels in Woiwurrung are /a e i o u/.[5]


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.[6]

Person Singular Dual Plural
Woi. IPA Eng. Woi. IPA Eng. Woi. IPA Eng.
1st Inc. Wangal [wa.ŋal] We two (you) Wanganyin [wa.ŋa.ɲin] We (& you)
1st Exc. Wan [wan] I Wangan [wa.ŋan] We two (not you) Wanganyinyu [wa.ŋa.ɲi.ɲu] We (not you)
2nd Warr [war] You Wabul [wa.bul] You two Wat gurrabil
Wat gurrabilla
Wat balak
Wat wurdundhu
[wat ɡu.ra.bil]
[wat ɡu.ra.bil.la]
[wat ba.lak]
[wat wu.ɖun.d̪u]
3rd Munyi [mu.ɲi] He/She/It Munyi gurrabil [mu.ɲi ɡu.ra.bil] Those two Malu gurrabila [ma.lu ɡu.ra.bi.la] They

Other vocabulary[edit]

  • Bik = land, country
  • Boorondara = shade, darkness, night (origin of the name of the City of Boroondara)
  • Nyilum bik = poor soil / hard land (origin of the name of Nillumbik Shire)
  • Wominjeka = hello / welcome
  • yabber = to talk (this word, with the same meaning, has made its way into informal English)[7]
  • Yarra = flowing, (also means "hair"). Is thought to have mistakenly given to the Yarra River (which was actually called Birrarung by the local indigenous peoples) by an early settler who asked a boy what it was called, who was confused and answered "it is flowing".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Woiwurrung-Thagungwurrung". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ S36 Woiwurrung–Daungwurrung at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies  (see the info box for additional links)
  3. ^ Barry Blake 1991: 31
  4. ^ S83 Ngurai-illamwurrung at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
  5. ^ Hercus (1969).
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ Oxford Dictionary of English, p 2,054.

External links[edit]