About the Project

This language project was established by the Wangan Jagalingou Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation through a grant received from the Department of Communication and the Arts. The project is Stage One of a greater vocation for the revival and regeneration of the Wirdi Language.

This stage was designed to recover all recorded language words from the country of the Wanggan and Yagalinggu and surrounding areas, to transcribe all written and audio language, whilst sourcing any remaining Wirdi speaking persons.

The outcome of this project was to launch an interactive website dictionary with tools for learning the Wirdi Language.

Our aim was to consolidate this information with the guidance of our Elders and community, to begin an ongoing language project to ensure that our future generations are able to cultivate and reclaim their cultural identities and speak fluent Wirdi.

Through the research process, our language for country was referred to as the Clermont Wirdi language by many of our Elders and neighbours who contributed to the recorded documentation by Linguists.

The words and phrases in this website are based on the extensive documentation by Nils Holmer and referenced to recorded audio (which was publicly available), as well as consulting with Wanggan and Yaglinggu Elders and community.

This project started in July 2019 and due to the Covid 19 Pandemic from early 2020, did not allow us to undertake full consultation and engagement.

We have released this website on the basis that it is an ongoing project and to encourage feedback and contribution from families and communities,  with the aspiration of adding more words and phrases and to also work with a Linguist to assist with the learning of sentence structures.

Through the limited consultation process, we heard from people that the words in this dictionary are not the words what they heard growing up.  It was accepted that because of the removal of our old people from country to missions, such as Palm Island, Cherbourg, Woorabinda the traditional languages were mixed, which meant that words were adopted within those communities to communicate.

However, the Wirdi dictionary is a collection of words and phrases based on the Holmer word list and identified as the Clermont Wirdi Language, which was then compared with the many word lists documented by Linguists from surrounding dialects.


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Sources of information

The sources of material reviewed to create the word lists and phrases were:

Audio Recordings

  1. E. Chesney (1966) Language elicitation and songs recorded at Palm Island, QLD. (Audio), AIATSIS
  2. N. Holmer, (1970-72) Songs, language elicitation and narratives in languages from northern NSW and south-east Queensland (Audio), AIATSISThese recordings were used solely for the purpose of understanding the phonetics of words.The audio on this website is recorded by Coedie McAvoy.

Written Material

The key material reviewed in the research stage was:

A. Beale (1974) A grammar of the Biri language, AIATSIS, PMS 3461.

E.M. Curr (1887) The Australian race: its origin, languages, customs, place of landing in Australia, and the routes by which it spread itself over that continent. Melbourne: John Ferres, Government Printer. London: Trübne.

N. Holmer (1983) Linguistic survey of south-eastern Queensland. Canberra: Department of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University.

A. Schmidt (1981) Problems of Australian Dialectology: the Maric dialects of Queensland, AIATSIS PMS 4609.

A. Terrill (1993) Biri: A Salvage Study of a Queensland language, AIATSIS MS 3262.

A. Terrill (1998) Biri: Languages of the world. München: Lincom Europa.

Acknowledgement Of Country

We respectfully acknowledge our Ancestors and Elders for their strength, guidance and wisdom shared with family and researchers at a time when our people were being dispossessed of language and culture.