W8: Wudjari

AIATSIS code: 
AIATSIS reference name: 


Thesaurus heading language
Thesaurus heading people
ABN name
ABS name
Horton name
Ethnologue name
Nyunga [Kwetjman]
ISO 639-3 code
Tindale name
Wudjari, Njunga
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]).
O'Grady et al (1966)
Widjara, Warangoo, Warranger, Warrangle, Ngokwurring, Ngokgurring, Nonga, Nunga, Yunga, Daran
Other sources
Kwaitjman [Douglas 1968: 4 - Douglas does not say whether this is equivalent of Wudjari]
Nyungar, Wutjari, Nyunga Daran

The WA Handbook and Nash (2007 p.c.) identify Wudjari as a Nyungar W41 dialect. See record for Noongar / Nyungar W41 for a discussion about the relationship between Noongar / Nyungar people names and language/dialect names.

Von Brandenstein (1988) reports that what is now known as the Noongar / Nyungar language emerged because of a socio-political crisis that divided a group of people previously known as the 'shell people', with the Wudjari distancing themselves from the Nungurra through linguistic engineering (metathesis of non-final syllables). This new speech variety (which acquired the name Nyungar) then spread throughout much of the south-east of WA as a result of various population movements. This would imply that the language of the Wudjari people is Noongar / Nyungar.

Kwetjman in Wurm (1994) and Gwedjman in Oates (1975) are included here on the basis of Tindale's alternative of Wudjari, 'Kwaitjman', as well as the location of Kwaitjman given by Douglas (1968), and the location of Wudjari given by Tindale. This may perhaps have been the name of the language variety spoken by the 'shell people' (both Wudjari and Nungurra divisions) prior to the split.

Of Gwedjman, Oates (1975:90) says that this could be an alternative of Goreng W5 or another Njungar W41 dialect, though there appears to be no evidence of its relationship to Goreng. The Noongar Boodjar Waangkiny Language Centre assigns the Wudjari clan to the 'Kongal-boyal - South-eastern' dialect, noting the approximate nature of 'how the original 14 recognised Noongar Clans have been drawn into 3 main dialects'.


  • Brandenstein, Carl G. von. 1988. Nyungar anew: phonology, text samples and etymological and historical 1500-word vocabulary of an artificially re-created Aboriginal language in the south-west of Australia: Pacific Linguistics C-99. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  • 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. <http://noongarboodjar.com.au/language/noongar-dialects/>, viewed 19 October 2015.
  • Oates, Lynette F. 1975. The 1973 supplement to a revised linguistic survey of Australia. Armidale: Armidale Christian Book Centre.
  • Thieberger, Nicholas. 1993. Handbook of Western Australian Aboriginal languages south of the Kimberley region: Pacific Linguistics C-124. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  • Tindale, Norman B. 1974. Aboriginal tribes of Australia: their terrain, environmental controls, distribution, limits, and proper names. Berkeley: University of California Press/Canberra: Australian National University Press.
  • Wurm, Stephen. 1994. Australian classification. In Atlas of the world's languages, eds C. Moseley and R. E. Asher, 114-118. New York: Routledge.
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

Gwedjman: Ravensthorpe area and to the east of it. Maybe alternative name for Goreng or another dialect (Oates 1975:90).

From near Gairdner River east to Point Malcolm; inland to edge of coastal slope, approximately 30 miles (50 km.); at Kent, Ravensthorpe, Fanny Cove, Esperance, and Cape Arid; western members were moving toward Bremer Bay in earliest historical time (Tindale 1974).


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 None 0
Text Collection None 0
Grammar None 0
Audio-visual Less than 1 1
Manuscript note: 
tape transcription/field note available (Bates)
Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005) Pama-Nyungan South-West Nyungar Nyunga [Kwetjman] Nyunga [Former Nyungar languages: Tjapanmay, Karlamay, Pipelman (Pipalman), Ngatjumay, Kwetjman, Mirnong, Kaniyang Pindjarup, Whadjuk.]
Dixon (2002)       Wutjari Nyungar tribal names: Njunga, Wutjari, Koreng, Minang, Pipalman, Wartanti, Pindjarup, Whadjuk, Kaneang, Wilmen, Njaki-Njaki
Wurm (1994) Pama-Nyungan South-West   Wudjari, Kwetjman  
Walsh (1981) Pama-Nyungan South-West Mirning o?r Nyungar Wudjari, Kwetjman  
Oates (1975) Pama-Nyungan Pilbara-Nyungar (Southwest) Njungar Wudjari, Gwedjman  
Wurm (1972) Pama-Nyungan Southwest (or Nyungic) Nyungar Kwetjman  
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Pama-Nyungan Southwest Nyunga Wudjari