Map of western Arnhem Land NT, showing the region where Kunwinjku and related dialects (Kundjeyhmi, Kundedjnjenghmi, Kune, Kuninjku) are traditionally spoken. The Bininj Kunwok Language Project operates out of a base at Jabiru in Kakadu National Park. Frequent visits to Gunbalanya and outstations further to the east are regularly undertaken as part of this work.

Nawu Njale?


Bininj Kunwok is a name used for a chain of six mutually intelligible dialects which stretch from Kakadu National Park in the Top End of the Northern Territory south to Pine Creek and Manyallaluk, across the Arnhem Land plateau and east to the Mann, Liverpool and Cadell Rivers districts and as far east as some outstations south of Ramingining in central Arnhem Land. Bininj Kunwok is perhaps best known in the anthropological literature by the name of one of its dialects, namely Kunwinjku (spelt ‘Gunwinggu’ before the development of a standard practical orthography). The terms used by the speakers of each of the six dialects for the name of their particular dialectal varieties are - Kunwinjku, Kuninjku, Kundjeyhmi, Kundedjnjenghmi, Kune and Mayali.

For some dialect varieties there is further internal sub-grouping. Kune speakers divide themselves into two subdialects, each of which, in the multi-lingual context of the area, is associated with another regional language. Thus one Kune group is primarily associated with the Rembarrnga speech community and the other with Dangbon (a northern name of the language Dalabon). Living in the Upper Cadell River region, the ‘Rembarrnga-side’ Kune label their dialect variety Kune Dule-rayek or Mayali and the ‘Dangbon-side’ Kune call theirs Kune Na-rayek, the adjective -rayek meaning ‘hard, strong’, Na- being a noun class prefix and Dule meaning ‘song, tune, or prosody’. Kune Dule-rayek is spoken primarily at the outstations of Buluhkaduru, Bolkdjam, and some other seasonal communities to the east. Kune Na-rayek is spoken at Korlobidahdah outstation and by people from this community who now live in diaspora across the Arnhem Land plateau, and in Maningrida and Darwin.

This site contains information about Bininj Kunwok, resources, images, language texts and news from the Bininj Kunwok Language Project which is funded by the Indigenous Languages Support program of the Australian Government's Office for the Arts. Are you interested in learning to speak, read and write a Bininj Kunwok dialect? See the blog posts where lessons are presented and you can post comments and questions as you learn. There is also a range of resources, books, audio, photos and other materials under the 'resources' section of the main menu.