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The People and their Traditional Country

There are only a few people who can still speak Juwaliny. These people mainly live in Bidyadanga and Looma communities.


The Juwaliny people follow the four skin group system. The groups are Panaka, Karimara, Purungu and Parrjarri. Nowadays, many people also use the skin names heard further to the south.


The traditional country of Juwaliny people is in the north-west fringe of the Great Sandy Desert. Their neighbours were the Walmajarri to the north-west, Mangala to the East and Yulparija to the south. The first Juwaliny to arrive at Bidyadanga were resettled from Udialla Feeding Station around 1950. Other Juwaliny arrived later from the desert, often first stopping at Anna Plains, or one of the other stations in the area of Bidyadanga.


Purtungana Bangu and Sandra Woia share their medicinal knowledge in Juwaliny on the bush medicine DVD

Language Resources and Recordings

Wangka Maya linguist Sally Dixon compiled the Juwaliny Dictionary 2008. Many Juwaliny community members contributed to this resource, including Purtungana Bangu and Harry Bullen.


Father Kevin McKelson made many recordings of Juwaliny, making word lists, grammar notes and exercises to help people learn the language. He also translated many church songs and prayers into Juwaliny. Joyce Hudson and Eirlys Richards also recorded many Juwaliny words and placed them in the Walmajarri Dictionary.


Wangka Maya also worked with the community to develop the Bidyadanga Bush Medicine DVD, where community members share their medicinal knowledge in the five languages used in Bidyandanga, including Juwaliny.


Language Information

Juwaliny is member of the Ngumpin language family, which stretches right over the northern fringe of the central desert areas to the Gurindji and Mudbura groups in the Northern Territory. It is often referred to as a dialect of Walmajarri because it is very similar.


Juwaliny has many different words to Walmajarri. For example, to say ‘father’ a Walmajarri person would probably say ngarpu whereas a Juwaliny person would probably say yirna. Sometimes the words are very similar in the way they sound. For example, to say ‘this one’ a Walmajarri person would probably say minyarti, whereas a Juwaliny person would probably say mintyartu. In the past, Juwaliny has been spelt as Juwarliny, Tjuwalinj, Jiwarliny and Tjiwarlin.


Written example of the Language


Marlarl pan

Nothing in particular


Wanyjarra majayi?

Where’s the boss?


Mayarula ngunini

He is in the house


Julala yankupa

Tell him to come


Juwaliny Bodyparts

arm kurrapa
armpit kitikiti
brain milyilyi
chest marrngamarrnga
ear kulilkulil
elbow yurlku
eye mil
foot jina
hand kurrapa
head nganyinganyi
heart turlpu
intestine jilpirti
kidney wirrurntu
knee kimana
liver mirliki
lung ralyuralyu
mouth lirra
neck (back of) nyanka
nose jirrji
rib mirnjilmirnjil
shoulder kilpili
teeth lirra
throat wangkipinti
tongue jalany