Ngadjonji Homepage Ngadjonji Lands Ngadjonji History Old Photos Language Food & Technology Ngadjonji Today

Glossary of some Ngadjon Words

Note on Pronunciation

Professor Bob Dixon pioneered linguistic studies amongst Aboriginal people in North Queensland and in writing this glossary I have tried to adhere to his basic outlines for writing dialects of the Dyribal language group.
I will quote him briefly here, however anyone seriously interested in studying Ngadjon language is well advised to go to the source.

Special note on b and p - Dixon's scheme uses b to cover both these sounds since there are no word pairs (such as bat and pat in English) that would require the distinction. However, contemporary Ngadjon uses a distinct p sound for some words. Where this is the case, we have used p in this list. - M.H.

"There are thirteen consonants - b,d,g,j,l,m,n,ny,ng,r,rr,w,y.
  1. b and m are sounds pronounced with the lips, exactly like b and m in English.
  2. d and n are also quite like English sounds; they are pronounced with the tip of the tongue just touching the ridge just behind the top teeth.
  3. j and ny are rather different from any sounds that occur in English. The sound we write j for is like a d and a y pronounced at the same time ... ny is like n and y pronounced at the same time. These sounds are pronounced with the front part of the tongue against the front part of the roof of the mouth, with the tip of the tongue just behind the teeth.
  4. g is exactly like the English sound and ng is like the sound that occurs at the end of some words in English (as in 'bang' and 'sing'). These are made by the back of the tongue being pressed against the back part of the roof of the mouth.
There are only three vowel sounds, many fewer than in English. ...
  1. i - the front of the tongue raised up towards the roof of the mouth. This usually sounds like the vowel in the English word 'beet' but it can sound like the vowel in 'bit' or even that in 'bet' ...
  2. u - the back of the tongue is raised towards the roof of the mouth. This usually sounds like the vowel in English 'boot' or 'tool' but it can sound like the vowel in 'put' or enen that in 'bought' ...
  3. a - with the mouth quite open and the tongue lying in the bottom of the mouth. This is like the sound in English 'bat' and 'man', but it can be pronounced like the vowel in 'half' or even that in 'not' ..."

"Writing down Jirrbal and Girramay", Bob Dixon, Canberra 1978.

badugi   blanket

bajiri   water dragon, goanna

bambu   eggs

bana   water

bangarru   turtle

Barany   Lake Barrine

barga   spear

barrga   (Calamus caryotoides), the lawyer cane used most for making baskets.

barrgaru   sword

bibiya   (Archontophoenix alexandrae - Alexandra palm) The heart was chopped, cooked and eaten.

bigan   shield

birrarr   (Argyrodendron perlatum - Red Tulip Oak)

birring   the sea

Bulaba  Bora Ground near Lamins Hill

Bulgina  The place around the Bora Ground, Butchers Creek

bunban  (Endiandra insignis - Hairy Walnut) Kernel processed for starchy food.

bungaa   possum

buni   fire

bunyji  ( Ficus destruens - Boonjie Fig) Sticky sap smeared on bird perching areas to trap them. Fruit eaten by cassowary. Edible fresh or cooked. Note origin of place name Boonjie.

buyu  thick rainforest.

dagurrba   (Ficus congesta - Red Leaf Fig) Bark used to make string. Ripe figs eaten.

danggaja   (Athertonia diversifolia - Atherton Oak) Kernel of fruit is eaten. Also eaten by musky rat-kangaroo and native rats. The fruit is called didaja.

dawurrga   (Mammea touriga - Brown Touriga) Ground seeds used to catch scrub turkey.

didaja   the fruit of Atherton Oak - see danggaja

duguba   bag for carrying water, sugar etc., supported by forehead.

duguu   the rainforest edges.

dulabul  morning star

dunu  (Prunus turneriana - Almondbark) Used raw for treating toothache.Kernel processed for food.

durrgim  white tailed rat

gabi   (Ficus pleurocarpa - Banana Fig) The inner bark was used to make blankets as well as containers for carrying water and honey. The wood from the flange buttresses was used to make shields.

gama  corroborees involving only people of the Ngadjonji tribe

gamama   (Cycas media) - The seeds of this cycad were processed and eaten.

gambil   the tablelands.

ganggi   (Beilschmiedia bancroftii - Yellow Walnut) The nut kernels were steamed, ground, leached and eaten. Also used to catch scrub turkeys.

ganyjuu   (Castanospermum australe - Black Bean) An important food source after processing. Stored in pits in the wet-season camps.

ganyu   jewfish

garpu   carpet snake

garri   the Sun

guda   dog

gugi   flying fox, fruit bat

gugula   platypus

gugulu  clapping stick

gulagaa   (Ficus copiosa - Sandpaper-leaf Fig) Leaves used to sand spears, shields, etc. Young unripe fruits, yalanda, are cooked before eating. Ripe fruit is yanggi.

gumaring   whiteman

gumbala  pupal stage of witchetty grub - see jambun.

gumbulgan  cassowary

gundaya   python

gupa   pademelon (rainforest wallaby)

guwaa   (Endiandra palmerstonii - Black Walnut) Ground seed used to catch scrub turkeys. Seed eaten after cooking; tastes like bread.

guygi   The leaves of jungganyu, used for thatching mija.

guyu   (Pothos longipes - Candle Vine) Ripe red fruit eaten, mostly cooked but can be eaten fresh.

jaanggany  (Alstonia scholaris - Milky Pine) Wood used as base plate for fire stick. White sap used as a glue in making rafts, to stick turkey feathers on body as a corroboree decoration and also used to heal sores. Note, place name Jaggan derived from this word.

jaju   earth

jambun  witchetty grub (larva stage), gumbala pupa, wirri adult.

jangganyu  (Calamus moti) Cane used for climbing and framework of mija. Shoots of young rosette plants are edible after cooking - taste like asparagus. Can have laxative effect.

janjuu  lawyer cane basket

japun  eel

jarragan  scrub hen

jidu  fire stick. Also the name of the tree which is used (Halfordia scleroxylla)

jigaru  thunderstorm

jiigan   (Lomandra longifolia) Used to make baskets. Base edible

Jillan   the Bora Ground near Butchers Creek, said by the Ngadjonji to be the site of a massacre (see Massacre)

jimama  turkey trap

jiman  (Tetrasynandra laxiflora - Tetra Beech) Preferred wood for the twirling stick to make fire.

jubula  (Prumnopitys amara - Black Pine) Kernel processed for starchy food.

julu julu  (Xanthostemon whitei - Red Penda) Wood used for spear tips and for yam sticks.

junjum   (Xanthostemon chrysanthus - Golden Penda) used for swords.

Jurra Julam   Mt. Bartle Frere

juubari   (Lepidozamia hopei) Seeds of this cycad are processed and eaten.

magurra   (Ficus variegata - Variegated Fig) Used sometimes for making shields.

malay malay  (Elaeagnus triflora - Millaa Millaa Vine) Sweet flesh of ripe fruit eaten. Note origin of place name Millaa Millaa.

mapi  tree-climbing kangaroo

mija  dome-shaped, rain proof thatched huts. Also home country, home.

mayi   the native bee

munggarra  scrub turkey

munyan  boomerang

muramba   aboriginal people

murrgan   (Elaeocarpus angustifolius - Silver Quandong) Edible fruit.

Naypa Naypami   Mt. Hypipamee Crater

ngarru   don't

ngunuy  (Xanthorrhoea johnsonii - Grass Tree) A word shared by Yidiny and Ngadjon. The resinous sap is used as a lacquer in shield making.

Ngunyinbarra   Russell River to Lamins Hill clan of the Ngadjonji

nguu   yes

nigu   (Calamus radicalis - Vicious Hairy Mary) Very thick lawyer cane.

Nuta  Lake Euramo

nuta  black possum

warrama  corroborees involving a number of tribes

warrgin   open forest

Wiinggina  Lake Eacham

wiiraa  (Davidsonia pruriens - Davidson Plum) Ripe flesh eaten.

wirri  adult stage of witchetty grub - see jambun.

wujar  mist

wundajilla   green possum

yagal   (Pandanus spp) Generic term for pandanus, used for baskets.

yalanda  Young unripe fruits of gulagaa, cooked before eating - taste like potatoes.

Yamani  the rainbow serpent, also rainbow.

yanggi  ripe fruit of gulagaa

yapulam   (Calamus australis) Lawyer cane used for handles of baskets

yapun   mother

yara   fishing line

yarra   man, men. Also aboriginal people.

yawala   (Bowenia spectabilis - Zamia Fern) Root processed and eaten.

yimba   no or nothing

yipi   woman

yurrgan   white woman

Return to Ngadjonji History Contents Page

Next Section