LANGUAGE


In the beginning, in Buwarraja, the Great Spiritual Ancestors sang the land in Songlines and brought the languages to the people all over the country. As the Songlines ceremonially linked people to their neighbours, Yidumduma grew up learning the languages of the neighbouring tribes. He can speak 3 languages fluently and parts of 7 in total.

Click on Read More & Resources for full video transcripts and further research.

 

 Language Map

There were an estimated 270 Aboriginal language groups and 500-600 dialects or distinct languages in Australia prior to colonisation. Today, 145 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages are still spoken in Australia and Wardaman is one of these but considered endangered with about 8 speakers. Only 18 languages remain strong, meaning they are spoken by people of all ages. 

indigi_map.jpg Click on the map to take you to a detailed ABC interactive version. You will find the Wardaman language in the Fitzmaurice region of north central Australia.

Hair DNA proves 50,000 years of Aboriginal History
Aboriginal Heritage Project: Uni Adelaide


Wardaman Animals & Plants

Learn and download Wardaman language names for animals, birds, insects, spiders and plants courtesy of the Katherine Language Centre.

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Wardaman
Language Lesson: Intro

Yidumduma teaching some Wardaman words at Menngen community, 2006.
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Creation Story & Flood

Listen to Yidumduma share the first chapter of the Creation Story relating to the flood in full Wardaman language.  This clip is from the archive of CAAMA Productions, Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association, and used with their permission. www.caama.com.au/productions
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Language Crisis

Yidumduma discusses with Ernie Dingo the language and culture crisis in his community. This began when the Wardaman were forced from their land in the late 60's/70's, ironically with equal wages and rights law. Today about 100 people speak and understand limited traditional language.  Only a handful are fluent in full language. Likewise, there is a language crisis for the 30 language groups in the Katherine region.  Segment used with permission from CAAMA Productions series Talking Languages with Ernie Dingo.
www.caama.com.au/productions
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Kriol

The majority of Wardaman today speak Kriol. Yidumduma speaks to his grandchildren in Kriol, but will speak to his sister Sally in Wardaman.

Kriol arose earlier this century due to the upheaval created by the European invasion and occupation of Aboriginal lands in the "cattle belt" of the Northern Territory and Kimberley. It uses many English words but they are often used in a different way, so people hearing Kriol should realise it is a language in its own right and should not be confused with a form of English.

 Learn more      italklibrary         Waltzing Matilda in Kriol

Walking in: Gornbun-ya Site

Yidumduma teaching Jonas Doctor as they walk into Gornbunya Whistling Kite art site. Here Yidumduma uses Kriol to talk to Jonas, and Wardaman language to talk with the Ancestors as they approach.
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Wardaman
Language Lesson: Birds

Learn and practice Wardaman words for their beautiful birds in 3 interactive language lessons courtesy of italk.
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Talking To The Ancestors 1

Yidumduma walking into a sacred art site and talking in Wardaman language to the Ancestors who live in the rock art images . This is a shared site along the Victoria River between the Ngaliwurru and Wardaman. The Victoria River is a shared boundary of the two tribes. At the request of the Ngaliwurru elders the rock art images are not shown.
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Talking To The Ancestors 2

Yidumduma departing the same art site after visiting in 2005, saying farewell to the Ancestors, singing and thanking them. This is a shared site along the Victoria River between the Ngaliwurru and Wardaman. Yidumduma sings a Warrangin boundary song for the two tribes.
boyjorn boyjorn wunowninjarra.......travelling and singing and walking faster.
juwi.....  goodbye 
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Sign Language 1

Yidumduma and nephew Jonas Doctor share traditional Wardaman sign language and modern usage from the streets of Katherine. Sign language was handed down from the Dreamtime Buwarraja, to communicate across distances and languages, in ceremony, mourning, hunting and for the deaf. Featuring signs for: initiated men, women, fighting, water, big rain, swimming, wife, tracking, hungry, listen, eat......
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Sign Language 2

Yidumduma Bill Harney and nephew Jonas Doctor share traditional Wardaman sign language and modern usage from the streets of Katherine NT. Sign language was handed down from the Dreamtime Buwarraja, to communicate across distances and languages, in ceremony, mourning, hunting and for the deaf.  Featuring signs for: riding, shoeing a horse, sick, doctor, Clever Man (Wizard), white man, ghost, Stolen Generation...
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