Our Language

Our language is very important to us and to keep it alive like the birr (root ) of a balu (tree) keeps going.

We teach our children so they can teach their children and keep going – a trail which we call magurr (road).

Our liyan (feelings) is within the traditional language – its power to our country with all the languages nationwide.

From the traditions of the Bugarrigarra Yawuru language was given to people in Yawuru country; the myths and rituals of the Bugarrigarra locate language within specific places, and Yawuru language is used to tell the stories of Yawuru country.

Yawuru Ngan-ga Language comes from the Bugarrigarra.  Through many linguistic studies of Indigenous languages,  researchers have found that there is a connection between words of the Yawuru language and many neighbouring language groups. This“Language Tree”, including the Yawuru region, is known as the NyulNyulan family of languages, and it extends over the Dampier Peninsula. But our Yawuru language is a unique branch of the tree within the West Kimberley region. There are universal words that Yawuru and other language groups use, such as ‘Liyan’ (good feeling).

Yawuru language is being woken up in the community. Yawuru and non-Yawuru people are learning Yawuru language in schools and at Mabu Yawuru Ngan-ga; the Yawuru language centre. The continuity and persistence of Yawuru language is due to the hard work and dedication of elders and speakers.

The Walalngga Yawuru Ngang-ga language program is a 2 year study program for Yawuru adults.  The program aims to have 20 Yawuru language speakers by 2021.  It increases the use of Yawuru language amongst family and friends.

Graduates of the program will have opportunities to work in tourism, land management or other industries. Some may continue to study through the Department of Education and gain accreditation to become school language teachers.

You can learn some Yawuru by downloading the Yawuru Ngan-ga language app .