Djinang-English Interactive Dictionary


Compilers:    Bruce E. Waters

Copyright:    © 2011 Australian Society for Indigenous Languages

Publication:   AuSIL Interactive Dictionary Series A-7

Series Editor:Charles E. Grimes

Editor:         Maarten Lecompte (for interactive version)




The Djinang language (Ethnologue/ISO code: dji) is spoken in north-central Arnhemland by around 300 speakers, most of whom live in the region of the Glyde River south of Milingimbi. Djinang has seven dialects or communilects, which also refer to the names of the seven principal Djinang speaking clans: Manyarring, Marrangu, Murrungun, Balmbi, Jardiwichibi, Miljingi, Wurlaki.


This Djinang Interactive Dictionary consists of approximately 3400 headwords and is based on fieldwork conducted by Bruce and Glenys Waters in the 1970s and 1980s, working under the auspices of SIL and previously published as an interim Djinang dictionary in 1983.

The following acknowledgements are drawn from Bruce Waterís introduction to An interim Djinang dictionary (p. VIII):


This current interactive version and the introduction was prepared by Maarten Lecompte in Toolbox  and Lexique Pro.


Text Box: My fieldwork thus far has been limited to the Djuwing dialects, and principally in the Marrangu and Murrungun dialects. Information about other dialects comes mainly from information supplied by speakers of Djuwing dialects. I express my appreciation to my principal teachers: Joe Giḏarri (ma), Manbarrarra (mu), and David Malanggi (mn). In addition, I have access to A. Capellís handwritten field notes, most of which is in the Wuḻaki dialect, being gathered about 1941 or before. I extend thanks to various others who have supplied language data, both directly and indirectly: George Milpurrurr (Ganalbingu clan, Djinba language), Jack Merritji (ma), David and Kathleen Glasgow, Jeffrey Heath, Frances Morphy, David Zorc, Beulah Lowe, and Graham McKay.

Djinang Spelling

Iin order to bring the spelling in line with orthography conventions used for other aboriginal languages (e.g. Burarra) The following changes have been made to the spelling as it was originally used in the printed Djinang dictionary:

                             spelling printed dictionary     new spelling

                              tj                                            ch

                                      dj                                           j

                                       d                                           rd

                                       t                                            rt

                                       n                                           rn


                                       l                                            rl

                                      n.g                                         ng                   

Djinang sounds

Djinang has 21 consonants and 3 vowels. The vowels are:









Djinang consonants are presented below. The symbols used in the practical orthography in the Djinang Interactive Dictionary are presented first in dark red, with IPA symbols in square brackets for special sounds.




Tongue tip forward

Tongue tip curled back

Middle of tongue

Back of tongue






voiceless stop




tj    [ʧ]


voiced stop


d  [d]

rd  [ʈ]

dj   [ʤ]





rn  [ɳ]

ny  [ɲ]

ng [ŋ]



l   [l]

rl   [ɭ]



glides and rhotics


rr [r]

r    [ɻ]

y    [j]




Language resources available from AuSIL

A description of the phonology and verb morphology of djinang is found in work papers of SIL/AAB (Waters, 1979):

Djinang phonology (19.7 Mb, pdf) 

Djinang verb morphology (7.6 Mb, pdf)


Some references on Djinang

Waters, Bruce E. (1979). A distinctive features approach to Djinang phonology and verb morphology. Work Papers of SIL-AAB. Series A, 4. Darwin: Summer Institute of Linguistics. ix, 161 p.

Waters, Bruce E. (1980). Djinang phonology. Pacific Linguistics A 60: 1-71.

Waters, Bruce E. (1980). Djinang verb morphology. Pacific Linguistics A 60: 141-78

Waters, Bruce E., (1983). An interim Djinang dictionary. Work Papers of SIL-AAB. Series B, 9. Darwin: Summer Institute of Linguistics. xii, 231 p.

Waters, Bruce E. (1989). Djinang and Djinba: a grammatical and historical perspective. Pacific Linguistics  C, 114. Canberra: Australian National University. xvi, 405 p.