Waka Waka body parts

Waka Waka is the name of the language and Aboriginal people of the Burnett Region – Waka Waka is also documented by several other names, including Wakka Wakka, Wokka, Woka-Woka and Woga.

The language area includes several dialects and extends across the South and North Burnett regions and takes in the communities of Cherbourg, Kingaroy, Gayndah, Mundubbera, Eidsvold, Jimna and the Bunya Mountains. AIATSIS have identified Waka Waka as the standardised spelling and assigned it Language Code E28 which is used by many collecting institutions, including State Library of Queensland in their catalogue descriptions.

There is a significant amount of documentation on the Waka Waka language from first contact in the 1840’s with several lexicons, wordlists and other vocabularies. Linguistic work by Rev John Mathew and recent linguists such as Holmer means there is an accompanying grammar to provide clues on how the language was constructed and spoken. Unfortunately, there are minimal speakers and there is a real concern that the language is not spoken on a daily basis in communities to keep Waka Waka as a thriving, living language.

This wordlist is drawn from historical and community sources and identifies language words for the parts of the body and their suggested pronunciation.

Download Waka Waka body parts (PDF 323.9 KB)

Note: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages were oral-based; there may be several variations in spelling and pronunciation. The following list should be seen as a guide - check with local language speakers/custodians as to the preferred local pronunciation.

Aboriginal sounds

In pronouncing Aboriginal words, there are some sounds which are quite different to English and require practice.

'dh' is different to English - it is pronounced with the tongue at back of teeth.

'dj' is similar to English - it can be between ‘j’ and ‘ch’.

'ng' is one sound in Aboriginal languages and is different to the 'n' sound in English - it is closest to the 'ng' sound found in singer.

'nh' is different to English - it is pronounced with the tongue at back of teeth.

'ny' is one sound in Aboriginal languages and is different - it is closest to the 'n' sound found in onion.

'rr' is a rolled 'r' sound similar to a Scottish 'r'; at the end of a word it may sound like ‘d’.

EnglishWaka WakaPronunciation
AnkleWuluWoo-loo
ArmGiningGeen-ing
ArmpitWamgirWarm-gear
BackBurumBoo-rum
BacksideMundiMoon-dee
BeardYikkaYick-ah
BloodDirDe-ah
BoneGiraGear-ah
CalfBuyuBoo-yoo
CheekWangaWong-ah
ChinYikkaYick-ah
EarBinangBin-ung
ElbowKulumurKool-oo-moor
EyeMaMah
EyebrowDhipinDee-pin
EyelashBuel-buelBewl-bewl
FaceNgwarNg-wah
FingerNaNah
FingernailGillinGill-lin
FootDjinangGin-ung
HairGamGam
HandNaNah
HeadMauMaw
HeartDuDoo
IntestinesGunangGoon-ung
KneeBundurBoon-door
LegDjangarJung-ar
LipsDhamburDum-burr
MouthDhamburDum-burr
NeckWandaWun-dah
NoseMiMee
ShoulderWaliWah-lee
SkinDumeeDoo-mee
StomachMuMoo
TeethDiangDee-ung
ThighDjungorJung-or
Toe/ToesDjinangGin-ung
TongueDunamDoo-nam

Learn more about the language and culture of Cherbourg and the Burnett Region.

The Ration Shed Museum has an online archive Cherbourg Memory to explore the lives, histories and cultures of the people of Cherbourg; view images and other stories relating to the theme of language and culture.

Winifred Fisher Knowledge Centre (IKC) Cherbourg has recently been established to support local community culture and history. The centre is located in the Old Youth Respite Centre and can be contacted via phone 07 4168 1866 or email: cherbourgikc@outlook.com

For items in the State Library collections, relating to Waka Waka, click here.

Further details

For further information on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages at the State Library of Queensland, please contact:
kuril dhagun, State Library of Queensland
Stanley Place, South Brisbane Qld. 4101.
PO Box 3488, South Brisbane Qld. 4101.
t: (07) 3842 9836            f:   (07) 3842 9893

Library membership

Become an SLQ member now to access our services, collections and facilities.

Library Shop online

Discover an eclectic range of books, gifts, reproduction prints and more at the Library Shop.