N31: Batjamalh

AIATSIS code: 
AIATSIS reference name: 


Thesaurus heading language
Thesaurus heading people
ABN name
ABS name
Horton name
Ethnologue name
ISO 639-3 code
Tindale name
Tindale (1974)
Amijangal, Ami, Worgait, Worgite, Worgaid, Wa-gait, Wagaidj, Wagite, Waggait, Waggite, Waggote, Waggute, Wagatsch, Wa(o)gatsch, Wogite, Wargad (Murin-bata term), Murinwargad (Murinbata term).
O'Grady et al (1966)
Wogatj, Wagaitj, Worgait, Worgite, Waggait, Waggite, Waggote, Waggate, Wagatsch, Waogatsch
Other sources
Wogait, Wagatsch, Waggait, Wagaitj, Waggate, Waggites, Waggote, Waogatsch, Wargad, Wogadj, Worgaid, Worgaidj, Wogath, Wogaity, Wogite, Worgait, Worgite, and Wogaidj. Wogait is a misnomer for Wadyiginy. Their langauge Wadyiginy, which has another sub-dialect called Batyamal. Wadyiginy has several variant spellings, namely, Wadjigin, Wadjigi:n, Wdadjingi and Wadjingy [Tryon 1974] Patjtjamalh, Batymal, Batjamal, Batyamal, Murrinh Patjtjamalh (a name used by Murrinh-patha speakers), Murrinh Bathemarl, Wadjiginy, Wadyiginy, Wadjigin, Wadjagidj, Wogait, Wogaidj, Wagaitj, Wogadj, Wogatj, Wargite, Waggait, Worgait [Top End Handbook] Wangites (Herbert 1873:50), Waggites (Wildey 1876:115), Wogites (McKillop 1893:254), 'Waggait' (Parkhouse 1895:34), Wogait (Basedow 1907:2), Worgait (Spencer 1912:14) [Ford 1990] Batyamal [Tryon 1974] Waggait, Waggite, Worgite, Waggote [Basedow 1907:2]
Wadjiginj, Wadjiginy, Wadyiginy, Patjtjamal, Wagait, Waggite, Wogait, Batjamal, Batjemal, Bajamala, Batyamal, Batymal, Wadjigin, Wadjingy, Wadjigany, Wogatj, Wagaitj, Worgait, Worgite, Waggait, Waggote, Waggate, Wagatsch, Waogatsch, Wadjinginj, Waggites, Wargad, Wogadj, Worgaid, Worgaidj, Wogath, Wogaity, Wogite, Wogaidj, Wogait is a misnomer for Wadyiginy, Their langauge Wadyiginy, which has another sub dialect called Batyamal, Wadyiginy has several variant spellings, namely, Wdadjingi, Amijangal, Ami, Wa gait, Wagaidj, Wagite, Waggute, Murinwargad, Daly River language.

Wadjiginy people who worked with Ford call their language Batjamalh; others call both language and people Wadjiginy. Batjamalh is described as an isolate, with borrowings from the neighbouring language Emmi-Menhdhe (see N15 and N6), whose Emmiyangal and Menhdheyangal speakers were affines to the Wadjiginy (Ford, 2016: preface, 1).

 Batjamalh is not demonstrably related to the other Daly languages but is placed in the Anson Bay group with Pungu Pungu N11 (Green & Nordlinger viewed November 2020).


  • Baker, Brett. New Top End Handbook (FileMaker database). (AILEC 0626).

  • Dixon, R. M. W. 2002. Australian languages: their nature and development: Cambridge Language Surveys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Ford, Lysbeth Julie. 1990. The phonology and morphology of Bachamal (Wogait), Australian National University: MA. (MS 3410).
  • Ford, Lysbeth Julie.1997. Batjamalh dictionary and texts. Canberra: Panther Press
  • Ford, Lysbeth Julie. 1998. A description of the Emmi language of the Northern Territory of Australia, Australian National University: PhD.
  • Ford, E. 2016. Batjamalh Grammar and Dictionary. Outstanding grammars from Australia. Muenchen: LINCOLM GmbH.
  • Green, Ian & Nordlinger, Rachel. The Daly Languages (Australia).Web Resource: http://dalylanguages.org
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

... originally located on the shores of Anson Bay...south of the mouth of the Daly River... opposite the Peron Islands, are Wajiginy camp-sites (Ford 1990).

According to Batjamalh speakers, Wadjiginy territory was originally located on the shores of Anson Bay. Agnes Lippo and Kitty Moffat confirmed that Banakula and Banagaya, south of the mouth of the Daly River, and Dirrktirrk, Nyikmingguny, Balgal, Kadjaluik, Bananggurini, and Budjut opposite the Peron Islands, are Wadjiginy camp-sites (Ford 1997).

In the earliest written reference to the Wadjiginy, dated 1874, surveyors exploring the hinterland of Darwin for the Overland Telegraphy route note that 'the Waggites are located to the westward, about Anson's Bay' (Wildey 1876:115).

The 'Wangites' Reserve, proclaimed in 1892, granted the Wadjiginy title to 288 sq. miles between the Finnis and Daly Rivers (South Australian Government Gazette, 1892, cited in NLC 1979:140).

Father McKillop of the Uniya Mission knew the 'Wogites' as 'a powerful tribe' with land on the left bank of the Daly (McKillop 1893:254).

Parkhouse (1895:634) described them as 'westerly neighbours' of the Larakiya, beyond Shaol Bay.

In 1894, Knut Dahl explored the Daly with a 'Wogait' guide. Dahl recalls the 'Wogait' as 'a tribe entirely different from the Valli Valli (Daly) people' and 'Wogait' territory as 'a very extensive coast area, reaching from the mouth of the Daly almost to Port Darwin' (Dahl 1927:15, 128).

Basedow (1907:2) locates the 'Wogait' to the west of the 'Larrekiya', from the Finniss River to Cape Ford.

Stanner (1933:387) refers to them as 'a tribe which once lived in the Anson Bay district' (Ford 1997).

Batjamalh is the language of the Wadjiginy people whose country traditionally extends from Point Blaze, at the southern end of Fog Bay, to the mouth of the Daly River, including Channel Point, the Reynolds River estuary and mouth, and the northern part of Anson Bay (Green & Nordlinger).


Arthur Capell, W Hoddinott
Indigenous organisations: 
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 Small (20-100 pages) 2
Text Collection Less than 20 pages 1
Grammar Small grammar (100-200 pages) 3
Audio-visual Less than 1 1
Manuscript note: 
tape transcription/field note available

Ford, Lysbeth. 1990. The Phonology and Morphology of Bachamal (Wogait), Australian National University: MA.


Ford, Lysbeth. 1997. Batjamalh : dictionary and texts. Bungendore, NSW: Ford.

Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005)       Wadjiginy Wadiginy [dialects: Pungupungu (Kuwama, Patjtjamalh, Kandjerramal)]
Dixon (2002)   DALY RIVER AREAL GROUP Western Daly subgroup* Patjtjamalh (=Wadjiginj) Patjtjamalh (=Wadjiginj, Wogait) Ford (1990) further dialect: Kandjerramalh (=PunguPungu)
Wurm (1994) Daly Bringen-Wagaydy   Wadiginy  
Walsh (1981) Daly Bringen-Wagaydy Wagaydy (Wogaidy) Wadjiginy  
Oates (1975) Daly Bringen-Wagadj Wagadj Wadjinginj  
Wurm (1972) Daly Brinken-Wagaty Wagaty Wadjiginy  
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Wogatjan     Wogait