Bininj Kunwok pilot 2016

Bininj Kunwok pilot 2016


Njalenjale is a Kunwinjku term for ‘bits and pieces’ – in this section you can dig a bit deeper into different aspects of the current unit.


As in all societies, Kunwinjku people use a number of different ways to refer to each other. Names, nicknames, titles and so on. Because Kunwinjku society is small and people have a very high degree of contact with each other, there are some differences from bigger social systems. One of the most obvious differences for an English speaker entering the Kunwinjku system, is that names are not the main way of referring to people. Instead there are several other systems used in parallel. For example, one particular Kunwinjku man could be spoken to, or about, using the following terms:

  • Nabulanj -his skin name (most common form of informal reference)
  • Nawernwarre -“eldest” among siblings.
  • Namandjurlngunj -member of Mandjulngunj clan
  • Njamkimuk -“beer gut” (Nicknames are common)
  • Nadjakerr – (His father is talking to his younger brother about him using this Kundebi term which reflects the triangle of relationships between the three of them.)
  • kakkali -“my spouse”
  • ngabba -“daddy”

Generally, Kunwinjku adults will go to some trouble to avoid using a name, so to make it clear which Nabulanj skin group man is being discussed, a series of terms might be used, for example:

  • Nabulanj Namandjurlngunj nawu Djakku
    • That Nabulanj man from the Namandjurlngunj clan who is left handed.
  • Ngalwakadj ngalbu ngarrmanjmeng, ngalwernwarre
    • Ngalwakadj that you and I both call Kakkali, the eldest of the women in that category.

Names are used too, particularly by children. Most Kunwinjku people have Kunwinjku personal as well as family names, often as well as an English first name. Personal Kunwinjku names are usually only used and known by close family members. Normally, the only people who address you by your personal Kunwinjku name would be spouse or parents, and only in informal close family contexts.

The most common form of address and of referring to people is to use “skin names”. These are the most important thing to learn first.


If you live/work with Bininj, find out how to address them