AIATSIS code: 
AIATSIS reference name: 


Thesaurus heading language
Thesaurus heading people
ABN name
Noongar language (Previously Nyungar language)
ABS name
Horton name
Wudjari (Njunga)
Ethnologue name
ISO 639-3 code
Tindale name
Njunga, Wudjari (Njungar)
Tindale (1974)
Wudjarima (extended form of name), Wudjari:ma, Wuda, Wudja, Widjara, Warangu (valid alternative), Kwaitjman (of northern tribes), Ngokwurring, Ngokgurring, Nunga, Njungar, Nyungar, Nonga, Yunga (['nu?a = 'no?a = 'njo?a = 'nju?a = 'nju?ar] = man), Bremer Bay tribe (area originally not theirs), Yungar, Njungura (name applied by a Miming man of Ooldea who went to Esperance by train and found friendly southern people there), Karkar (Karkar = east, name applied by Wiilman), Caskcar [sic] (presumably misreading of handwritten word of the form Carkcar, i.e., Karkar) ? Daran (name at Perth applied to eastern tribes-people who saw the sun rising from the sea [Moore 1884]) for Wudjari .
O'Grady et al (1966)
Other sources
Nyungar, Nyunga, Wudjari, Njunga, Wudjarima, Wudjari:ma, Wuda, Wudja, Widjara, Warangu, Kwaitjman, Ngokwurring, Ngokgurring, Nunga, Njungar, Nonga, Yunga, Bremer Bay tribe, Yungar, Njungura, Karkar, Caskcar Daran for Wudjari
The name Noongar / Nyungar has been used as a cover term for a group of related languages (O'Grady, Voegelin and Vogelin 1966), a cover term for a group of related dialects (Douglas 1968, Bindon and Chadwick 2011), and as the name of a contemporary language variety (e.g. Whitehurst 1992). Tindale's Wudjari is included here as he says "see Wudjari" for Nyungar (W41). It appears that Nyungar, the alternative spelling of Noongar, is more widely used by linguists. The following names have been associated with Noongar / Nyungar: Nyaki Nyaki A1, Bibbulman W1, Yuat W11, Minang W2, Wardandi W3, Kaniyang W4, Goreng W5, Pinjarup W6, Wiilman W7, Wudjari W8, Wajuk W9, Balardung W10 and Tjapanmay A92. (Note that Vaszolyi (PMS 1945) compiles a list of 25 'speech form' names associated with Njungar (W41) from four different sources: Douglas 1968, Oates 1968, O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin 1966 and Capell 1963.) Some sources, such as Dixon (2002), treat these as the names of groups of people whose language is Noongar / Nyungar, others such as O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) treat them as language names of a Noongar / Nyungar subgroup, and yet others (Douglas 1976) treat (some of) them as dialect names of a Noongar / Nyungar language. Whitehurst (1992:iii) says 'Noongar has about 12 dialects', and Rooney (2011:16, The Nyoongar legacy) mentions that the Nyoongar Language Conferences established that there were about 14 pre-contact dialects of the language, of which only three could now be identified. The Noongar Boodjar Waangkiny Language Centre notes that 'sometimes people use clan names for dialect names to ensure readers know the country and the people their stories belong to'. The centre's web site describes three main dialects: Djiraly - Northern, Kongal-marawar - South-western, and Kongal-boyal - South-eastern, and notes that 'the dialect regions are an approximation of how the original 14 recognised Noongar Clans have been drawn into 3 main dialects.' Bernard Rooney's 2011 Nyoongar dictionary primarily represents the 'north-western' dialect, spoken in the Moora district of Nyoongar country, identified as 'Yued/Yuat' W11 in the subtitle. It is catalogued with both Noongar / Nyungar and Yuat W11 language headings. In this database, each of the Noongar / Nyungar names is treated as both group name and, tentatively, dialect name.
  • Bindon, P. & R. Chadwick. 2011. A Nyoongar wordlist from the south west of Western Australia. WA: Western Australian Museum.
  • Capell, Arthur. 1963. Linguistic survey of Australia. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.
  • Dixon, R. M. W. 2002. Australian languages: their nature and development: Cambridge Language Surveys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Douglas, Wilfrid H. 1968. The Aboriginal languages of south-west Australia: speech forms in current use and a technical description of Njungar: Australian Aboriginal Studies 14, Linguistic Series 4. Canberra: AIAS.
  • Noongar Boodjar Waangkiny Language Centre - Noongar dialects. <http://noongarboodjar.com.au/language/noongar-dialects/>, viewed 13 October 2015.
  • Oates, W.J. 1968. Australian languages linguistic survey. Report 1967-68. Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies. (PMS 1945)
  • O'Grady, G. N., C. F. Voegelin and F. M. Voegelin. 1966. Languages of the world: Indo-Pacific fascicle six. Anthropological Linguistics 8(2).
  • Rooney, Bernard. 2011. Nyoongar dictionary: a list of Nyoongar words of the south-west of Western Australia with special emphasis on the mode of language commonly used in the north-western (Yued/Yuat) area. Batchelor, NT: Batchelor Press. (L N996.003/3)
  • Rooney, Bernard. 2011. The Nyoongar legacy: the naming of the land and the language of its people. Batchelor, NT: Batchelor Press. (L N996.003/4))
  • Whitehurst, Rose. 1992. Noongar dictionary: Noongar to English and English to Noongar. Carey Park, WA: Noongar Language and Culture Centre (Aboriginal Corporation). (L N996.003/1)
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

Nothing in AUSTLANG.

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 Large (more than 200 pages) 4
Grammar Sketch grammar (less than 100 pages) 2
Audio-visual More than 10 3
Manuscript note: 

Douglas, Wilfrid. 1968. The Aboriginal languages of the south-west of Australia. Canberra: AIAS.


Bindon, Peter. 1992. A Nyoongar wordlist from the south west of Western Australia. Perth, WA: Anthropology Dept. Western Australian Museum. von Brandenstein, Carl. 1988. Nyungar anew: phonology, text samples and etymological and historical 1500 word vocabulary of an artificially re-created Aboriginal language in the southwest of Australia. Canberra: Dept. of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies. Rooney, Bernard. 2011. Nyoongar dictionary: a list of Nyoongar words of the south-west of Western Australia with special emphasis on the mode of langugae commonly used in the north-western (Yued/Yuat) area. Batchelor, NT: Batchelor Press for the Benedictine Community New Norcia Inc.

Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005) Pama-Nyungan South-West Nyungar Nyunga Nyunga [Former Nyungar languages: Tjapanmay, Karlamay, Pipelman (Pipalman), Ngatjumay, Kwetjman, Mirnong, Kaniyang Pindjarup, Whadjuk.]
Dixon (2002)       Nyungar Nyungar tribal names: Njunga, Wutjari, Koreng, Minang, Pipalman, Wartanti, Pindjarup, Whadjuk, Kaneang, Wilmen, Njaki-Njaki
Wurm (1994)          
Walsh (1981)          
Oates (1975)          
Wurm (1972)          
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966)