Language of the Week: Week Twenty-Three - Jangga

Welcome to Week Twenty-Three of the A-Z of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages!

This week's language of the week is Jangga a language from the Central Queensland region, particularly the headwaters and catchment of Suttor River taking in localities of Mt Coolon, Yacamunda and Hidden Valley. Jangga is also known as Yangga or Yanga with Austlang also identifying Durroburra and Dorobura as clans or dialects within the language group. Breen, Terrill and other linguists view Jangga as a dialect of the Biri language chain - there are shared words across the region with other dialects which include Yilba, Miyan, Wirri, Gabulbarra, Baradha, Baranha, Yambina, Yetimarala, Garaynbal, Gangulu and the Brown River language.

Entry for Yangga/Jangga in A revised linguistic survey of Australia, Oates (1970).

Oates in the revised linguistic survey of 1970 was unable to identify any language speakers for Jangga / Yangga - there are community revival efforts to bring the language back to life. The Birri-Gubba Wadja Bimbi Aboriginal Corporation is supported by the North Queensland Regional Aboriginal Corporation Language Centre.

Homestead at Yacamunda Station near Bowen.

Tindale in his work on Jangga and languages in the region refers to Yacamunda Station - a short Jangga vocabulary collated by Tindale in the 1930's is held at the South Australian Museum. Contemporary linguistic work by Breen and Terrill have compiled basic vocabularies for the Jangga language - everyday words include:

  • Bird – dhibila
  • Echidna – babirra
  • Fish – winna
  • Grass – gindyerra
  • Home/Camp – yamba
  • Kangaroo – wurra
  • Koala – walmul
  • Land – nhani
  • Nulla nulla – balur
  • Shield – gulmari
  • Snake – munda
  • Spear – galga

Some of the published work of Breen and Terrill is held at the State Library, while their field notes and other language materials are held in AIATSIS.


Next week's Language of the Week is Kawalgaw Ya from the Torres Strait!


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


Spoken: Celebrating Queensland languages exhibition

Spoken Virtual Tour

Jarjum Stories exhibition

Old Words, New Ways upcoming exhibition

Minya Birran: What next for Indigenous Languages?



Cover image: Mt Coolon Post Office and General Store, 1932. Negative number: 201712

Entry for Yangga / Jangga, A revised linguistic survey of Australia, Oates (1970). Q 499.15 OAT

Homestead at Yacamunda Station near Bowen. Negative number: 26889


References and Further Reading

State Library collections have some material relating to Jangga / Yangga with relevant items catalogued under Biri


Breen, G. (2009) “The Biri dialects and their neighbours”. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, V133, No.2. SER 506.942

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 continentRBF 572.994 cur

Terrill, A. (1998) BiriJ 499.15 TER

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



Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)

North Queensland Regional Aboriginal Corporation Language Centre

South Australian Museum - Tindale Collection.


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