There were about 200 Aboriginal languages spoken in Australia at the time of European contact.
These 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: Kundjeyhmi, Kunwinjku and Jawoyn.
Many Aboriginal people speak two or more languages. Kundjeyhmi and Kunwinjku are regarded as dialects of each other because their speakers can understand one another. Jawoyn is a separate language spoken in the southern parts of the park.
Kundjeyhmi is spoken in the central part of Kakadu. Unlike English, Kundjeyhmi spelling is very consistent, so once you have learnt the rules it is quite easy to work out how to pronounce words.
Our downloadable guide to Aboriginal languages will show you how to pronounce Kundjeyhmi words. The guide is also available from the Bowali Visitor Centre.
Want to learn more?
The Bininj Kunwok Regional Language Centre has created a dictionary of words from Kunwinjku and the other languages of Kakadu and Western Arnhem Land.
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