2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages: Word of the Week - Week Forty-Three.

As part of State Library's commitment to the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages, we will be promoting a 'word of the week' from one of the 125+ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and dialects from across Queensland.

State Library's IYIL2019 Word of the Week: Week 43.

This week's word is thirra from the Muruwari language of Western Queensland. It means 'song' and celebrates the tradition of song as a way to pass on cultural knowledge and stories.

Map showing Muruwari country, Barker & Mathews (1977).

Muruwari is also written as Murrawarri, Murra-warri, etc. was spoken on parts of the Guloga, Birrie and Bokhara Rivers taking in the area from Bourke and Brewarrina extending north towards Goodooga and Cunnamulla in Western Queensland. Muruwari is undergoing community language revival supported by several organisations, including Wonganurra Aboriginal Corporation and Pulkurru Aboriginal Corporation.

Muruwari Rain Song, Barker & Mathews (1977).

The above image shows a Muruwari rain song as recalled by Jimmie Barker to Janet Mathews. Jimmie indicated 'that Muruwari custom required that the oldest people sing this song'. A recording of the song and other language material is held at AIATSIS.

Join the conversation as we post a new word for each week!

Week Forty-Three 22-28 October 2019.

#slqIYIL #IYIL2019 #IYIL #IY2019WordoftheWeek #SLQIndigenousLanguages

Desmond Crump

Indigenous Languages Coordinator, State Library of Queensland

State Library of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Webpages

State Library of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Map

Jarjum stories: A kuril dhagun showcase focusing on children’s books and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. 19 October 2019-10 May 2020.

Spoken: celebrating Queensland languages: A major exhibition exploring the survival and revival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages throughout Queensland. Join in the many talks and events to celebrate the rich and diverse languages spoken today. Opens 21 November 2019-19 April 2020.

UN IY2019 Links

UN International Year of Indigenous Languages webpages

UN International Year of Indigenous Languages Resources


The word of the week has been sourced from the following item in the State Library collections.

Source: Breen, J.G. (1990) Salvage Studies of Western Queensland Aboriginal Languages. J 499.15 bre

Further Reading

Other materials in the State Library collections relating to Muruwari and neighbouring languages, include the following:

Barker, J. and Mathews, J. (1977) The two worlds of Jimmie Barker: the life of an Australian Aboriginal, 1900-1972, as told to Janet Mathews.  J 572.9944 BAR

Byno, V. (1979) Muruwari alphabet book. P 428.6 byn

Curr, E. M. (1887) The Australian Race: its origins, languages, customs, place of landing in Australia and the routes by which it spread itself over that continent. RBF 572.994 cur

Tindale, N. B. (1974) Aboriginal Tribes of Australia: Their Terrain, Environmental Controls, Distribution, Limits and Proper NamesQ 994.0049915 tin

Wafer, J. and Lissarrague, A. (2008) A handbook of Aboriginal languages of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. J 499.15 WAF


We welcome relevant, respectful comments.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.
We also welcome direct feedback via Contact Us.
You may also want to ask our librarians.

Be the first to write a comment