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Worrorra language

RegionWestern Australia
EthnicityWorrorra, Unggumi, Yawijibaya, Unggarranggu, Umiida
Native speakers
7 (2016 census)[1]
  • (Western)
    • Worrorra
  • Worrorra
  • Unggumi
  • Yawidjibara
  • Windjarumi
  • Unggarrangu
  • Umiida[2]
Worora Kinship Sign Language
Language codes
ISO 639-3Variously:
wro – Worrorra
xgu – Unggumi
xud – Umiida
xun – Unggarranggu
jbw – Yawijibaya
AIATSIS[4]K17 Worrorra, K14 Unggumi, K49 Umiida, K55 Unggarrangu, K53 Yawijibaya
Traditional lands of Australian Aboriginal Tribes around Derby.png
Map of the traditional lands of Australian Aboriginal tribes around Derby, Western Australia. Worrorra includes the orange and lavender.[5]

Worrorra (Worora), or Western Worrorran, is a moribund Australian Aboriginal language of northern Western Australia.

Worrorra is a dialect cluster; Bowern (2011) recognizes five languages: Worrorra proper, Unggumi, Yawijibaya, Unggarranggu, and Umiida.[6]

An alleged Maialnga language was a reported clan name of Worrorra proper that could not be confirmed with speakers.[7]

Elkin Umbagai was a translator between English and Worrorra.[8]


Worrorra consonant phonemes [9]
Bilabial Interdental Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar
Stop b dh d ɖ dj g
Nasal m nh n ɳ nj ŋ
Flap r
Lateral l ɭ lj
Approximant w ɻ j

Worrorra vowel inventory[9]

High i u
Mid e o
Low a

Sign language

The Worora have (or at one point had) a signed form of their language, used for speaking to kin in certain taboo relationships,[10] but it is not clear from records that it was particularly well developed compared to other Australian Aboriginal sign languages.[11]


  1. ^ "Census 2016, Language spoken at home by Sex (SA2+)". ABS. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  2. ^ Clendon (1994, 2000), Love (2000), cited in Dixon 2002
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Western Worrorran". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ K17 Worrorra at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies  (see the info box for additional links)
  5. ^ map is indicative only.
  6. ^ Bowern, Claire. 2011. "How Many Languages Were Spoken in Australia? Archived 2012-08-15 at the Wayback Machine", Anggarrgoon: Australian languages on the web, December 23, 2011 (corrected Archived 2012-07-03 at the Wayback Machine February 6, 2012)
  7. ^ Tindale, Norman B. (Norman Barnett); Jones, Rhys (1974), Aboriginal tribes of Australia : their terrain, environmental controls, distribution, limits, and proper names, University of California Press ; Canberra : Australian National University Press, ISBN 978-0-520-02005-4
  8. ^ Valda J. Blundell and Mary Anne Jebb. "Umbagai, Elkin (1921–1980)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  9. ^ a b Capell, Arthur; Coate, Howard H. J. (1984). Comparative studies in Northern Kimberley languages. Pacific Linguistics Series C. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. ISBN 0-85883-314-X.
  10. ^ Love, J.R.B. (1941). Worora kinship gestures, Reprinted in Aboriginal sign languages of the Americas and Australia. New York: Plenum Press, 1978, vol. 2, pp. 403–405.
  11. ^ Kendon, A. (1988) Sign Languages of Aboriginal Australia: Cultural, Semiotic and Communicative Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press