Djabugay everyday words

Djabugay is the name of one of the languages spoken in the Cairns region extending along the hinterland and ranges from Mt Molloy towards Atherton and along the Upper Barron River. Linguistic research suggest s there are several dialects in Djabugay including: Yirrgay, Guluy, Nyagali, Bulway and Djabugay (sources identify the term as a dialect as well as a language name). The Djabugay language was spoken and understood by Aboriginal groups in the region, including neighbouring groups of Yidinji, Gunggay, Dyirbal and Yalanji.

Djabugay is also written as Tjapukai, Tjapukandji, Djabuganjdji, Dyaabugay etc. AIATSIS have identified Djabugay as the standardised spelling and assigned it Language Code Y106 which is used by many collecting institutions in their catalogue descriptions.  

The following list identifies Djabugay everyday words and their suggested pronunciation. Some of these words may still be used in North Queensland communities.

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 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 the back of the 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.

'ny' is one sound in Aboriginal languages - 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 a 'd'.

Download Djabugay everyday words  (PDF 247.8 KB)

Barramundi Wuban-barra Woo-bun bar-rah
Cairns (placename) Gimuy Gim-eye
Cassowary Bunda:rra Bun-dah-rah
Children Bibunbay Bib-un-bye
Crocodile Ganyarra Gah-na-rah
Ear Bina Bin-ah
Eye Djili Jill-ee
Father Nyumba Num-bah
Fire Biri Beer-ee
Fish Guyu Goo-yoo
Foot Djina Jin-ah
Girl Gumba Gum-bah
Ground Bulngan Bull-ngun
Hand Mara Mah-rah
Head Bada Bah-dah
Home Bulmba Bulm-bah
Horse Yarraman Yah-ra-man
Kangaroo Gan.gula Gun-goo-lah
Knee Bunggu Bun-goo
Kuranda (placename) Ngunbay Nun-bye
Moon Gindan Gin-dun
Mother Mudjam Mud-jum
No Gari Gah-ree
One Nyiwul Nee-wool
People Bama Bum-ah
Pretty Djarrawi Jah-rah-wee
Rain Bana Bun-ah
Rainbow serpent Gudjugudju Good-joo-good-joo
River Wuru Woo-roo
Scrub turkey Wawun Way-won
Shield Dagurr Dah-gurd
Shoulder Binda Bin-dah
Speewah (placename) Guwulu Goo-woo-loo
Spider Garra Gah-rah
Stinging tree Gayam Gay-um
Stone Walba Wal-bah
Sugarbag honey Wunba Won-bah
Sugar glider Walburri Wal-boo-ree
Sun Bungan Boong-un
Sword Wagay Wag-eye
Telephone Djala gara-barra Jal-lah gah-ra-bah-ra
Today Yalungunda Yah-loong-under
Turtle Badjigal Bud-gee-gull
Two Mulu Moo-loo
Wallaby Dulbil Dool-bill
Wind Guyurru Goo-yoo-roo
Yes Yiy Yii

Learn more about Djabugay!

Listen to Michael Quinn talk about the revival of Djabugay language as part of ABC Open’s Mother Tongue Project.

Further details

For more information on Djabugay: North Queensland Regional Aboriginal Corporation Language Centre serves as the Indigenous Language Centre for North Queensland; visit NQRCALC’s website

State Library of Queensland

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.
Telephone: (07) 3842 9836            Fax: (07) 3842 9893

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