History of the Noongar language

The Noongar language is the official language of the Aboriginal People of the south-west area of Western Australia. The word Noongar is the name for the original inhabitants of the south-west of Western Australia and who come from 14 different groups. To view a map of the different groups please visit the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council website.

The Noongar language is more than just a way to communicate, it is also integral to the identity of the Aboriginal People of the south-west area of Western Australia. It has survived for more than 200 years amid colonisation of Western Australia.

In a booklet named ‘*Nyungar Tourism in the South West of Western Australia’, Noongar Elder Ralph Winmar said “Nyungar language has a harmonious quality, and it is a real treat to hear two fluent speakers in conversation.”

Some words of the Noongar language have been adopted into the English language, such as names for places, plants (Marri, Karri, Jarrah) and animals (Quokka). Many suburbs and towns end in the suffix ‘up’, such as Joondalup, Karrinyup and Dwellingup, which means place in the Noongar language.

While there are 14 dialect groups, the language between the groups is similar enough to be collectively referred to as the Noongar language. This common language allowed for communication and trade between dialectal groups.

For more information on the Noongar culture and language please visit www.noongarculture.org.au

*Noongar Elder Ralph Winmar in van den Berg, Collard, Harben and Byrne, Nyungar Tourism in the South West of Western Australia, Murdoch University, 2005
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