There were about 200 Aboriginal languages in Australia at the time of European contact. These distinct languages have extensive vocabularies and complex grammars.
In the time before non-Aboriginal settlement, 12 languages were spoken in the Kakadu area. Today, only three are spoken on a regular basis: Gun-djeihmi, Kun-winjku and Jawoyn.
Many Aboriginal people will speak two or more languages. Gun-djeihmi and Kun-winjkulanguages are regarded as dialects of one another because speakers can understand each other. Jawoyn is a separate language.
Gun-djeihmi is a living language.
Gun-djeihmi is the language spoken in the central part of Kakadu. Unlike English, the spelling system is very consistent, so once you have learnt the rules it is quite easy to work out how to correctly pronounce words. The Aboriginal language park note below gives details on how to pronounce the Gun-djeihmi alphabet, and is also available at the Bowali Visitor Centre.
Want to learn more about Kakadu’s languages? Visit the Bininj Gunwok website.