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 (['nunga = 'nonga = 'njonga = 'njunga = 'njungar] = 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, Nyulnga

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.'

Dixon (2002) describes Nyungar (W41) as a cover term for Wutjari W8, Koreng W5, Minang W2, Pipalman W1, Wartanti W3, Pindjarup W6, Whadjuk W9, Kaneang W4, Wilmen W7 and Njaki Njaki A1.

Theiberger describes Baladung W10, Bibbulman W1, Binjarub W6, Goreng W5, Kaniyang W4, Minang W2, Wajuk W9, Wardandi W3, Wiilman W7, Wudjaarri W8 and Yuwat W11 as language varieties "... known as 'Nyungar', the word for 'human being' in these languages, now used to refer to Aboriginal people of this region"  (1993: 32).

O'Grady et al (1966: 130) describe Nyunga (W41) as a cover term for a group of related language varieties including Wadjuk W9, Balardong W10, Wardandi W3, Minang W2 'and numerous other named dialects'. 

  • 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 17 May 2021.
  • 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: 

The map in Rooney represents 'major towns and rivers connected with the distribution of regional language stles in Nyoongar territory'. This map includes Jurien in the north west, with an arc travelling south east including Moora. New Norcia, Merredin and Esperance on the southern coast (2011:15).


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)