Dyirbal everyday words
The Dyirbal language is spoken in North Queensland along the Tully River and Johnston River Catchments. There are several dialects or related languages across the language Nation including Ngadjan, Waribarra Mamu, Dulgubarra Mamu, Jirrbal, Gulngay, Djirru, Girramay and Walmalbarra. Walsh (1981) further distinguishes Dyirribarra Mamu and Gambilbarra Dyirrbal.
Dyirbal is also written as Jirrbal, Djirbalngan, Jirrabul, Dyirbaldyi, Djirbal, etc. AIATSIS have identified Dyirbal 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 everyday words from the Dyirbal language and their suggested pronunciation.
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.
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 as 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.
'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'.
|Grandfather (Father's father)||Bulunydja||Bull-un-jar|
|Grandmother (Mother's mother)||Gumbu||Gum-boo|
Learn more about Dyirbal!
Listen to Uncle Ernie Grant talking about Dyirbal language and culture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSq-jSJbA6M
For more information on Dyirbal: 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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