Yuwibara body parts

Yuwibara is the name of the language of Aboriginal people of the Mackay region – often it is listed under the broad term of Yuri or Birri which refers to groups of related languages in North Queensland, extending from Marlborough to Townsville.

There is not much documentation on the Aboriginals of the Mackay region. Most of what we know about Yuwibara language has been provided by G. F. Bridgeman, who was the Superintendent of the Aboriginal Mission at Baker's Creek. This mission was one of the first established in Queensland and operated from 1870-1885.

As Aboriginal languages were oral-based, the spelling of Yuwibara and Yuwibara language may differ in historical documents and other sources; for example Yuwibara has also been spelt Juwibara, Yuipera, Yuwiburra and Yuibera. It was also referred to as Yuwi. There are also other language/dialect groups within the Mackay Region that may be related to Yuwibara.

The following list identifies parts of the body and their suggested pronunciation.

Download Yuwibara body parts  (PDF 234.8 KB)

Note: the following list should be seen as a guide only; there may be several variations in spelling and pronunciation. 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’.


Learn more about Yuwibara!

Listen to Nadine McDonald-Dowd, former Manager of kuril dhagun talk about her identity as a Yuwibara / Yuibera woman in this video.

Uncle Gary Mooney, a Traditional Elder from Mackay has made a short digital story for ABC Open Mother Tongue Project – watch it here: https://open.abc.net.au/explore/90786

North Queensland Regional Aboriginal Corporation Language Centre supports community language revival in the region; for more information visit their website: www.nqraclc.com.au

For items in the State Library collections relating to Yuwibara, 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

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