Gunditjmara Language

Joel Wright is a Gunditjmara man and researcher for the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages, the peak body for Aboriginal language research and reclamation in Victoria.

Joel carried out an investigation that revealed Moyjil was the traditional place name for Point Ritchie.

Here he discusses the languages of the Gunditjmara.

“We have 10 language groups that exist within the area identified as Gunditjmara country and two of the language groups have basically no records of language being recorded. These two groups are the Bear language and the King Parrot language. Having said that, though, the language that has been reclaimed from the remainder of the language groups across the country, this region, linguistic analysis has clearly identified all of these language groups belong to a specific language family which is distinct from all other languages within Victoria.

“Looking at the linguistic analysis of the language groups from the Western Districts we have a common vocabulary of around 11 per cent to maybe 18 per cent with the Coolum languages of central and northern Victoria. We (Gunditjmara) have a more common vocabulary percentage with the Buandig language which is immediately to the west of Gunditjmara country in South Australia, around the Mount Gambier region, which is around 40 per cent. Similarly if you go north towards the Grampians area and the Ballarat region you find the Dja Dja Wurrong and Djab Wurrong the language vocabulary shared is around 20 to 25 per cent.

 “Now in analysing the common language vocabulary of the language groups within the Gunditjmara area it’s as high a 75-76 per cent between the groups.

“You look at the level of common vocabulary and it clearly indicates that communication would have existed right across Gunditjmara country using the same core words.”

The Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages has produced a series of electronic story books featuring Gunditjmara people and languages.

They are available for purchase at the corporation's app store here.

The following words are contained in the phrasebook Yarnin Up: Keerray Woorroong, produced by the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages.

Click on the words and phrases to hear them spoken by Joel Wright.

Basic Words

No/Ngee Ngee
My Name is/Ngathoo-ngat leenyoong
Sit down/Koopa Neenkaka
Be Quiet/Matkatkat
Come Here/Wata
Go Away/Yana


Where is...?/Woontha

Family and People

Who is...?/Woontha
Aunty (mothers sister)/Papkoorrook
Uncle (mothers brother)/Nowyoorreerr
Father/ Peepay
Aunty (Fathers sister)/ Leempeen
Uncle (Fathers Brother)/ Koparr
Older Sister / Kalat
Younger Sister / Tyeentyeeyt Ngapangyarr
Older Brother / Wartee
Younger Brother / Koko
Cousin / Toweeleeyarr
Grandmother / Leenyarr
Grandfather / Kookoon
Woman / Thanampool
Man / Marr
Girl / Parrayt-parrayt
Boy / Warran Warran
Baby / Poopoop
Children / Thookay

Body Parts

Head / Peem
Eye / Meeng
Nose / Kapoong
Mouth / Woorroong
Ear / Weereng
Hair / Ngarrat
Teeth / Thangang
Hand / Marrang
Arm / Woorrk
Finger / Marrangnan
Stomach / Thookoong
Back / Werrk
Leg / Peern
Knee / Parrayn
Foot / Theenang

Feelings and Needs

I am Lost / Ngathook Yangkeepa
I am Hungry / Ngathook Kalpeerno Partoopang
I am Thirsty / Ngathook Koortngan
Toilet / Keerrng (urine)

Counting and Colors

One / Kayap
Two / Poolayt
Three / Pooleeyt
Four / Pooleet Pa Pooleeyt
Five / Pooleeyt Pa Pooleety Keeyap
Ten / Pooleeyt Marrang
Black / Meeyn
White / Tanteeyt Ngapkooyeeyt
Red / Keerreekeerreek Koonteeyt


Kangaroo / Koorrayn
Wombat / Meeyam Moorrayn
Echidna / Weelangkeel
Crow / Wang Wa
Eagle / Nyeeangkarra
Koala / Weengkeel
Possum / Koorramook


River / Warran Pookarr
Lake / Kanang
Land/Ground / Meerreeng
Sea / Meerteeyt Nyamat
Hill / Kang
Blackwood Tree / Moothang
Gum Tree / Karrang
Sky / Moornong Moornpoong

Time and Weather

When is...? / Woonta
Spring / Pakarr Yayawan
Summer / Peep Kalooyn
Winter / Ngoorntook
Wet / Tyaloortkampee (moisten)
Dry / Larroom (Dusty)
Day / Nganoong
Night / Poorroyn
Tomorrow / Toongkateeyt
Yesterday / Ngankat Trangkart
Sun / Nganong Tyeerreeng
Month / Keeyapayarr

The words and phrases have been reproduced with permission from the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages.