K8: Jabirr Jabirr

AIATSIS code: 
AIATSIS reference name: 
Jabirr Jabirr


Thesaurus heading language
Thesaurus heading people
ABN name
ABS name
Horton name
Ethnologue name
ISO 639-3 code
Tindale name
Tindale (1974)
Tjabartjabara, Tjabirtjabira (Mangala pronunciation), Tjabiratjabir, Djaberadjaber, Djaberdjaber.
O'Grady et al (1966)
Other sources
Djabirr Djabirr, Dyaberdyaber, Jabirrjabirr, Djaba Djaba, Djaberadjabera, Djaberdjaber, Djaberadjaber, Djaber Djaber, Djabirdjabir, Tjabartjabara, Tjabirtjabira, Tjabiratjabir

Nyulnyul is a non-Pama Nyungan language from north western Western Australia.

Jabirrjabirr is a non-Pama Nyungan language from north west Western Australia. McGregor classifies Jabirrjabirr as one of the Western Nyulnyulan languages, along with Bardi K15, Jawi K16, Nyulnyul K13, Nimanburru K9 and Ngumbarl K4. He contrasts these with the Eastern Nyulnyulan languages, Nyikina K3, Warrwa K10, Yawuru K1 and Jukun K2 (2010:209).


  • Harvey, Mark. 2008. Non-Pama-Nyungan Languages: land-language associations at colonisation. AILEC 0802.
  • McGregor, William B. 2010. The semantics, pragmatics and evolution of two verbless negative constructions in Nyulnyul. Oceanic Linguistics 49(1):205-232.
  • Stokes, Bronwyn. 1982. A description of Nyigina, a language of the West Kimberley, Western Australia (MFE/B52), Australian National University: PhD. (MFE/B52).
  • 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.
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

West coast of Dampier Peninsula from Sandy Point on Beagle Bay south to Cape Bertholet; inland for about 30 miles (50 km) (Tindale 1974). Price's Point to Carnot Bay (Stokes 1984:9).

Around the shores of Carnot Bay, Nodogon, on the Indian Ocean coast of the Dampier Peninsula (Nekes & Worms as cited in Harvey AILEC 0802). Did not think that Jabirr-Jabirr extended beyond Coulomb Point. This was also the view of another source (Bowern p.c. in Harvey AILEC 0802).

There is no detailed information on the territorial associations of Jabirr-Jabirr. Tindale describes Jabirr-Jabirr as almost extinct in 1953, and it had been an evanescent identity for a long time by 2007. All sources agree in attaching the name to Carnot Bay. Tindale's statement that Jabirr-Jabirr associations extended to Sandy Point on Beagle Bay is unlikely as Beagle Bay is generally agreed to be associated with Nyulnyul. Jabirr-Jabirr is generally described as south of Beagle Bay. Sandy Point is at the mouth of Beagle Bay. The next major point south on the coast is Low Sandy Point. Tindale's statement would more plausibly refer to Low Sandy Point rather than Sandy Point. Inland limits were inferred in accordance with drainage basins (Harvey AILEC 0802).



Handbook of Kimberley Languages (1988): 

Kalaako (A2 ) in Handbook of Kimberley Languages (1988).

4.5 Jabirrjabirr / Djaber-Djaber

Names of the language and different spellings that have been used:
Djaba-Djaba (Nekes), Djabara-Djaber (Elkin), Djaberadjaber , Djaberadjabera (Tindale), Djaber Djabar (Worms), Djaberdjaber (Oates & Oates, Capell, Black, Black & Walsh, Metcalfe), Djaber-djaber (Capell), Djaber-Djaber (AIAS, Nekes & Worms, Peile), Djaber Djaber (Worms), Dyaba-Dyaba (Worms), Dyaber-Dyaber (Worms), Dyabery-Dyaber (sic) (Worms), Dyabirdyabir (Kerr), Dyabirr Dyabirr (Stokes), Jabirr-jabirr (Hudson & McConvell), Jabera-Jaber
Classification of the language:
Nyulnyulan family
Identification codes:
Oates 1973: 49.1c
Capell: K1
Present number and distribution of speakers:
Apparently a handful of speakers remain; there is allegedly one speaker in Broome.
Stokes - less than 5
People who have worked intensively on the language:
Frs. Herman Nekes and Ernest Worms, 1930s to 1950s, Beagle Bay and Broome
Nora Kerr, late 1960s, Broome
Practical orthography:
None currently in use; the Dampier Land variant of the North Kimberley orthography would be suitable.
Word lists:
Capell (1966), Kerr (nd), Nekes (1931-47, 1939), Worms (1938a, 1938b, 1957, 1959)
Hosokawa collected a short word-list in 1986.
Textual material:
Nekes & Worms (1953)
Grammar or sketch grammar:
Material available on the language:
Bischofs, P.J. 1908. Die Niol-Niol, ein eingeborenenstamm in Nordwest-Australien. Anthropos 3. 32-40.
Capell, A. 1966. A new approach to Australian linguistics. (Oceania Linguistic Monographs, 1) Sydney: University of Sydney.
Elkin, A.P. 1933. Totemism in North-Western Australia (the Kimberley division). Oceania 3. 257-296, 435-481; 4. 54-64.
Kerr, N.F. nd. A comparative word-list: Nyigina and neighbouring languages. manuscript. AIAS.
Nekes, H. 1931-1947. Kimberleys language material: D'aro, N'ol N'ol, etc. 7pts. manuscript. AIAS Ms 35. (A1;B2).
_____ .1939. The pronoun in Nyol-Nyol (Nyul-Nyul) and related dialects. In Elkin, A.P. (ed.), Studies in Australian linguistics. (Oceania Monograph, 3) Sydney: University of Sydney. 139-163.
Nekes, H. & Worms, E.A. 1953. Australian languages. (Micro-Bibliotheca Anthropos, 10) Fribourg: Anthropos-Institut. 1058pp. AIAS MF 4.
Peile, A.R. nd. Field notes Warayngari. 182pp. manuscript. AIAS Ms 322.
Stokes, B. 1978-. Field notes: Nyigina. manuscript. AIAS A3 35. (A3a;B1).
_____ .1985. The verb from Noonkanbah to Broome: "alternative-prefixing" verbal systems of the West Kimberley. manuscript.
Worms, E.A. 1938a. Foreign words in some Kimberley tribes in North-Western Australia. Oceania 8. 458-462.
_____ .1938b. Onomatopoeia in some Kimberley tribes of North-West Australia. Oceania 8. 453-457.
_____ .1942. Sense of smell of the Australian Aborigines: a psychological and linguistic study of the natives of the Kimberley division. Oceania 13. 107-130.
_____ .1946. The aboriginal mind at work: semantic notes on Australian languages. Mankind 3. 231-232.
_____ .1949. An Australian migratory myth. Primitive man 22. 33-38.
_____ .1957. Australian mythical terms: their etymology and dispersion. Anthropos 52. 732-768.
_____ .1959. Verbannungslied eines australischen Wildbeuters: ein Beitrag zur Lyrik der Bad. Anthropos 54. 154-168.
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.

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 Less than 20 pages 1
Text Collection Small (20-100 pages) 2
Grammar A few articles 1
Audio-visual Less than 1 1
Manuscript note: 
tape transcription/field note available
Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005) Nyulnyulan     Dyaberdyaber  
Dixon (2002)   FITZROY RIVER SUBGROUP*   Djabirr-Djabirr Baardi (or Baard) McGregor (1996), Aklif (1999) further dialects: Djawi, Njul-Njul, Djabirr-Djabirr, Ngumbarl, Nimanburru
Wurm (1994) Nyulnyulan     Dyaberdyaber  
Walsh (1981) Nyulnyulan     Dyaberdyaber  
Oates (1975) Njulnjulan     Djaber-Djaber  
Wurm (1972) Nyulnyulan     Djabirdjabir  
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Nyulnyulan     Djaberdjaber