N18: Jaminjung

AIATSIS code: 
AIATSIS reference name: 


Thesaurus heading language
Thesaurus heading people
ABN name
Jaminjung language
ABS name
Horton name
Ethnologue name
ISO 639-3 code
Tindale name
Tindale (1974)
Tjamindjung, Djamunjun, Kaminjung, Jaminjang, Jaminjung, Tjaminjun, Djamundon, Djamadjong, Murinyuwen, Murinyuwan.
O'Grady et al (1966)
Jaminjang, Tjaminjun, Djamundon, Murinyuwen
Other sources
Jaminjung, Djamindjung, Djamindjun [Top End Handbook] Murrinh-Nhuwanh, Dhamanhdhung [Mark Crocombe, pers.comm.] Murrinh Nyuwan [Blythe 2009:30]
Djamindjung/Ngaliwuru, Djamindjung, Alura, Jaminjang, Tjaminjun, Djamundon, Murinyuwen, Djamindjun, Tjamindjung, Djamunjun, Kaminjung, Djamadjong, Murinyuwan

Jaminjung (N18) is non-Pama Nyungan language from the Victoria River District in the Northern Territory and classified as a member of the Western Mirndi group.

The Mirndi languages are spread across two geographically non-contiguous areas: Western Mirndi with 'Jaminjungan' (Jaminjung, Ngaliwurru N19), Nungali N28 and Eastern Mirndi with Jingulu C22, Ngarnka N121 and 'Wambayan' (see Binbinka N138, Gudanji C26, Wambaya C19) (Harvey 2008:1-3).

Nordlinger describes the first group located in the geographic west: Jaminjung N18, Naliwuru N19 and Nungali (N28), and in the geographic east the 'West Barkly' set consisting of Jingili C22 and the 'Eastern Group' of Ngarnga N121 and the McArthur language (aka 'Wambayan') (1998:4). See also Yilngali N2.


  • Blythe, Joe. 2009. Doing referring in Murriny Patha conversation, University of Sydney: PhD.
  • Cleverly, John R. 1966. Language elicitation and songs recorded at Timber Creek, Bullo River and Port Keats. (CLEVERLY_J01)
  • Cleverly, John R. 1968. A preliminary study of the phonology and grammar of Djamindjung, University of New England: MA.
  • Harvey, Mark. 2008. Non-Pama-Nyungan Languages: land-language associations at colonisation. AILEC 0802.
  • Harvey, Mark. 2008. Proto Mirndi: a discontinuous language family in northern Australia. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  • Nordlinger, Rachel. 1998. A grammar of Wambaya, Northern Territory (Australia): Pacific Linguistics C-140. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics
  • Sutton, Peter. 1995. Country: Aboriginal boundaries and land ownership in Australia. Canberra: Aboriginal History Inc.
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

... formerly between the Fitzmaurice and Victoria Rivers (Cleverly 1968:1).

... it was said that Djamindjung went to Bradshaws Run and the north side of the Vicotria River to its mouth (Akerman in Sutton 1995:112).

There was no precise information on the limits of Jaminjung associations in 2007. The general association was to the plain country between the East Baines and the Fitzmaurice. The most certain general association was to the drainage of the Angalarri. The most reliable information, gathered in 1996, indicated that the upper Fitzmaurice, including Wombungi homestead was associated with Jaminjung. Bradshaw homestead was associated with Jaminjung. There was no clear evidence as to the status of Yabby Creek drainage, to the west of Bradshaw homestead. This area is an ecological zone change, and these are commonly associated with language zone changes. This general consideration suggests that the Yabby Creek drainage was associated with Murriny-Patha rather than Jaminjung. However, a Jaminjung association is possible. The southern bank of the Victoria between Big Horse Creek and the Pinkertons was associated with Jaminjung. There was no precise evidence on how far south Jaminjung associations extended. However, Jaminjung and Ngaliwurru are extremely close dialects linguistically. Every other known case of close dialects in Australia involves a common boundary. The only possible common boundary is if Jaminjung extended south to the Newcastle Ranges. There is no clear evidence as to whether the East Baines, downstream from the Newcastle Ranges was associated with Jaminjung. It could have been associated with Jiyilawoong (Harvey AILEC 0802).


Handbook of Kimberley Languages (1988): 

Madoidja (A41 ) in Handbook of Kimberley Languages (1988).

6.2 Jaminjung / Djamindjung

Names of the language and different spellings that have been used:
Djamadjong, Djamundon, Djamindjung (AIAS, Bolt, Black & Walsh, Capell, Cleverly, Hodinott, McConvell), Djamindjung (Capell), Jaminjang, Jaminjoong (KLS, Waringarri Aboriginal Corporation), Tjamindjung, Tjaminjun, Tyamintju? (Walsh), Alternative names:, Murinyuwen, Murrinyuwen is the name by which the Murrinh-patha refer to Jaminjung.
Classification of the language:
Jaminjungan family
Identification codes:
Oates 1973: 41A.1 (Oates & Oates 1970: 38.1)
Capell: N18
Present number and distribution of speakers:
Timber Creek (NT), Port Keats (NT) and Kununurra.
Black & Walsh - up to 30 speakers
People who have worked intensively on the language:
Arthur Capell, late 1930s
J. Cleverly, mid 1960s, Kununurra
Michael Walsh, early 1970s, Port Keats
Practical orthography:
None currently in use. The Miriwoong variant of the North Kimberley orthography is being used, or recommended for use, in Kununurra, by the Waringarri Aboriginal Corporation.
Word lists:
Capell (1940, nd), Cleverly (1968), Chadwick (1979), Leeding (1971)
Textual material:
Cleverly (1968)
Grammar or sketch grammar:
Cleverly (1968)
Material available on the language:
Bolt, J.E., Cleverly, J.R. & Hodinott, W.G. 1970. Pronominalisation in Djamindjungan. In Wurm, S.A. & Laycock, D.C. (eds), Pacific Linguistic studies in honour of Arthur Capell. Canberra: PL, C-13. 593-615.
Capell, A. 1940. The classification of languages in north and north-west Australia. Oceania 10. 241-272, 404-433.
_____ .nd. Dictionaries of northern Australian languages. 267pp. typescript. [Arranged and typed by J. Trefry.] AIAS Ms 1399 (A1;B1).
Chadwick, N. 1979. The west Barkly languages: an outline sketch. In Wurm, S.A. (ed.), Australian linguistic studies. Canberra: PL, C-54. 653-711.
Cleverly, J.R. 1968. A preliminary study of the phonology and grammar of Djamindjung. MA thesis, University of New England. AIAS Ms 490.
Glasgow, D., Hocking, F.M., & Steiner, W.L. nd. Report [to AIAS] on surveys of languages and dialects of the north-east Kimberleys. 9pp. typescript. AIAS.
Hoddinott, W.G. & Kofod, F.M. 1976a. The bivalent suffix -ku: Djamindjungan. In Dixon, R.M.W. (ed.), Grammatical categories in Australian languages. Canberra: AIAS. 437-441.
_____ .1976b. Ergative, locative and instrumental case inflections: Djamindjungan. In Dixon, R.M.W. (ed.), Grammatical categories in Australian languages. Canberra: AIAS. 397-401.
_____ .1976c. Simple and compound verbs: conjugation by auxiliaries in Australian verbal systems; Djamindjungan. In Dixon, R.M.W. (ed.), Grammatical categories in Australian languages. Canberra: AIAS. 698-704.
Leeding, V.J. 1971. Word lists: Djamindjung and Ngaliwuru. 13pp. typescript. AIAS pMs 2268. (A2;B1).
McConvell, P. 1985a. The origin of subsections in northern Australia. Oceania 56. 1-33.
_____ .1985b. Time perspective in Aboriginal Australian culture: two approaches to the origin of subsections. Aboriginal History 9. 53-80.
Street, C.S. 1973a. [Djamindjung, Murinyuwen, Ngaliwuru, and Karuman? ['karuman] word list]. 12pp. manuscript. AIAS pMs 2376. (A2;B1).
_____ .1973b. A report on the survey of languages and dialects at Port Keats, N.T. 8pp. typescript. AIAS pMs 2388. (A2;B1).
Walsh, M.J. 1972. [Field notes: Djamindjung.] 116pp. manuscript. AIAS Ms 399. (A1;B1).
Language programme:
Language learning material:
Literacy material:

McGregor, William. 1988 Handbook of Kimberley Languages. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. © Author.

AIATSIS gratefully acknowledge William McGregor for permission to use his material in AUSTLANG.

Neil Chadwick, John Cleverly, Francesca Merlan, Eva Schultze-Berndt
Indigenous organisations: 

Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring:‘Mirima Place for Talking'  http://mirima.org.au/

Katherine Regional Aboriginal Language Centre

Batchelor Institute https://www.batchelor.edu.au/


Year Source Speaker numbers

Speaker numbers were measured differently across the censuses and various other sources listed in AUSTLANG. You are encouraged to refer to the sources.

Speaker numbers for ‘NILS 2004’ and ‘2005 estimate’ come from 'Table F.3: Numbers of speakers of Australian Indigenous languages (various surveys)' in 'Appendix F NILS endangerment and absolute number results' in McConvell, Marmion and McNicol 2005, pages 198-230 (PDF, 2.5MB).

Type Documentation Status Documentation Score
Word list Less than 20 pages 1
Text Collection Small (20-100 pages) 2
Grammar Large grammar (more than 200 pages) 4
Audio-visual More than 10 3
Manuscript note: 
tape transcription/field note available

Cleverly, John. 1969. A preliminary study of the phonology and grammar of Djamindjung, University of New England: MA.

Schultze-Berndt, Eva. 2000, Simple and Complex Verbs in Jaminjung - a study of even categorisation in an Australian language, Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen: PhD.

Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005) Djamindjungan     Djamindjung Djamindjung [dialects: Ngaliwuru (Ngaliwerra). Reports indicate that Djamindjung and Ngaliwuru are so close as to be one language; only some older adults can distinguish the difference.]
Dixon (2002)   MINDI SUBGROUP West Mindi subgroup* Djamindjung/Ngaliwuru Djamindjung/Ngaliwuru Cleverly (1968), Bolt, Hoddinott and Kofod (1971a), Schultze-Berndt (2000).
Wurm (1994) Djamindjungan     Djamindjung  
Walsh (1981) Djamindjungan     Djamindjung  
Oates (1975) Djamindjungan     Djamindjung  
Wurm (1972) Djamindjungan     Djamindjung  
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Djamindjungan     Djamindjung