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Pronunciation and spelling

Old Masters: Australia's great bark artists

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Pronunciation and spelling

The peoples of western Arnhem Land refer to themselves collectively as Bininj, and those in central and eastern Arnhem Land as Yolŋu. Their languages have special sounds, which are represented in this website and the catalogue in written form using a particular set of characters and symbols, or diacritics. These sounds are pronounced as follows:

galpu (spear-thrower): garl – pu

Gälpu (clan name): Gaal – pu

Yolŋu (the people): Yuul – ngu (‘ng’ as in ‘sing’)

Ngalyod (the ancestor): Ngal – yod (‘Ng’ as in ‘sing’)

Djan’kawu (the ancestors): Jahn – kawu

There are regional differences in spelling. For example, the moieties (the basic social divisions) in western Arnhem Land are Duwa and Yirridjdja, and in eastern Arnhem Land, Dhuwa and Yirritja. Similarly, the ancestors known as the Wägilak Sisters in central Arnhem Land are the Wäwilak Sisters in the east.