Yayaa – Calendar

Winanga-Li Gunnedah have been working on Gamilaraay language with their children for some time. One project that came out of that was to get names for letters – so that we can talk about them in Gamilaraay. At the moment we need to use English names for the letters ‘ay, bee, see, .. haitch,…double-yu,  etc. Hilary Smith, working with people at Winanga-Li, has spent many hours researching alphabets and has developed a proposed GR alphabet, with a great video, starring James Hogbin, currently working at Winanga-li. Yawala, ngamila. Read the doc [I can’t see how to upload a doc, so the contents are given below], look at the video at https://youtu.be/amyXy0NWqPQ.


Yayaa Gamilaraay, Yayaa Yuwaalaraay

Gamilaraay & Yuwaalaraay Alphabet

Letter/s  Names in English Possible name Gamilaraay/ Yuwaalaraay Example word
a ‘ay’ ‘ya’ barran boomerang
aa ‘double-ay’ ‘yaa’ waaruu crow
aay ‘double ay-wai’ ‘yaay’ dhagaay yellowbelly
ay ‘ay-wai’ ‘yay’ bagay river
b ‘bee’ ‘baa’ balabalaa butterfly
d ‘dee’ ‘yadaa’ bandaarr kangaroo
dh ‘dee-(h)aitch’ ‘dhaa’ dhinawan emu
dj ‘dee-jay’ ‘djaa’ gidjirrigaa budgerigar
g ‘jee’ ‘yaay’ gugurrgaagaa kookaburra
i ‘ai’ ‘yi’ bigibila echidna
ii ‘double-ai’ ‘yii’ giidjaa ant
l ‘el’ ‘yalaa’ gilaa galah
m ‘em’ ‘maa’ maliyan eagle
n ‘en’ ‘yanaa’ wubun blue-tongue lizard
ng ‘en-jee’ ‘nguu’ nguu paper bark
nh ‘en-(h)aitch’ ‘nhii’ nhigii coals
ny ‘en-wai’ ‘nyaa’ ngalinya us (two)
r ‘ar’ ‘yaraa’ warangana bee
rr ‘double-ar’ ‘yarr’ burraalga brolga
u ‘yu’ ‘yu’ mudhay brush-tailed possum
uu ‘double-yu’ ‘yuu’ dhuu smoke
w ‘doubleyu’ ‘waa’ waa shell
y ‘wai’ ‘yiyi’’ yuluwirri rainbow

yayaa is ‘alphabet’. The English word ‘alphabet’ is based on the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, α (alpha) and β (beta).

To say ‘Capital X’ use the suffix -bidi ‘big’, e.g. A is Ya-bidi. To say ‘small x’ use the suffix -dhuul ‘small’, e.g. a is yadhuul.


This table is the result of ongoing work in Gamilaraay Yuwaalaraay, where some people want to be fluent in the language – a long term project. In particular it is part of ongoing work at Winanga-Li Aboriginal Child and Family Centre, Gunnedah.

To use the language to speak about all things new words need to be developed – just as after invasion GY people developed words for sheep, car, police, white person and many more. This project proposes names for letters (a, b, etc.) and pairs of letters that (aa, dh, etc.) that represent one sound. The main researcher has been Hilary Smith, who spent hundreds of hours looking at letter names in other languages, trialling names for GY, discussing at Winanga-Li, and developing a video with James Hogbin at Winanga-Li.

The video is available at https://youtu.be/amyXy0NWqPQ.

John Giacon 2018-03-16

Hilary writes:

“This PowToon is to help people with the pronunciation of Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay words. It was developed as a tool after discussions at Winanga-Li Aboriginal and Child Centre in Gunnedah, where the staff are often asked for advice about speaking Gamilaraay, by people who do not want to disrespect the language by pronouncing it incorrectly. So this is to encourage everyone to have a go.

The easy thing about Gamilaraay (unlike English) is that once you know each of the sounds is written, you can pronounce any word correctly! In the video, words that are used in both Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay are given as examples for each sound.

A special feature of Gamilaraay is that words cannot start with vowels, or with some sounds such as ‘d’, so to pronounce the letter in a correct Gamilaraay way we have added ‘y’ or ’ya’ before it if necessary.

A next step to help people learn is to have an ‘alphabet song’, and we also have an alphabet poster underway, so watch this space!”

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