Jiwarli blog word cloud

A word cloud is a picture showing the number of times different words appear in a document or on a website — the size of the words and their distance from the centre show how frequently those particular words appear. Here is a word cloud for all the words used so far on this blog:If we just look at the Jiwarli words used on this blog we get this picture:

Notice that the most common words in Jiwarli are:

ngunha             ‘that’

ngunhaba         ‘that particular one’

Bulhabayara     ‘name of a god’

ngadha             ‘I’

wanggaja          ‘said’

gumbinha         ‘is sitting’

gumbaja           ‘sat’




Finding Jiwarli stories

This blog contains a growing number of stories in the Jiwarli language told by Jack Butler with English translations by Peter Austin and Jack Butler.

The stories are now categorised into types, so if you’re interested in a particular sort of story then you can find them by clicking on the links under Categories on the right-hand side of this page (scroll down to see the list).

The main types are:

  • Stories about animals, that tell about gurrbirli Plains Kangaroo, madhanma Hill Kangaroo, wiyanu Rock Wallaby, jiribarri Echidna, birrbilyanggura Rock Python, and migalyaji Bat
  • Stories about birds, that tell about gajalbu Emu, jindijindi Willy Wagtail, gabagurda Spotted Nightjar, dharrarrayilba Western Bowerbird, ngalyardangura Mountain Butcherbird, jilinbirrira Mudlark, bilyarndi Galah, ngarnawarra Little Corella and bardurra Turkey
  • Reminiscence stories, that tell about events in Jack Butler’s life
  • Traditional stories, that describe what happened ngurra bularalaburra ‘the time when the earth was soft’

Please feel free to leave a comment if there is any particular story that you enjoyed reading.

Welcome to the Jiwarli blog


This blog concerns the Jiwarli language (also spelt Djiwarli, Tjiwarli) which was traditionally spoken along the upper reaches of the Henry River, a tributary of the Ashburton River, in the north-west of Western Australia. The language was unrecorded until 1978 and is now extinct; the last person who learnt to speak Jiwarli as a child, Mr Jack Butler, passed away on 24th April 1986. Before his death Jack Butler worked with Peter Austin to record over 70 texts in a range of genres, including mythology and personal history, a vocabulary of around 1,500 words and grammatical elicitation of morphological paradigms and syntactic constructions. Publications on the language include a bilingual dictionary (Austin 1992), a text collection (Austin 1997), and articles on morpho-syntax (Austin and Bresnan 1996, Austin 1995, 1998, 2000, 2001). A grammar of Jiwarli is being prepared for publication.

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