Bininj Kunwok pilot 2016

Bininj Kunwok pilot 2016

Pronunciation & spelling

The Kunwinjku language has a consistent spelling system (or orthography) which has been in use since the 1960s when it was developed by linguists in consultation with the community, mostly at Gunbalanya (Kunbarlanja). It is now used for all varieties of Bininj Kunwok. Older materials sometimes spell the language as ‘Gunwinggu’, and other words with ‘g’ which are now spelled with ‘k’*

The Kunwinjku alphabet contains these letters:

a b d dj rd e h i k l rl m n ng nj rn o r rr u w y

You’ll notice that some English letters are missing (like c, f, p, s, z) and there are some combinations that English doesn’t have (like dj, rd, rr). Some of these letters have the same sound as they do in English; others do not. These may cause problems until you get used to the system.

Watch this video, listen to the sounds and see how they are represented using the alphabet in each word. Then repeat each word after the speaker to practise your pronunciation. Don’t worry too much about the meanings of the words for now, we’ll come across them in upcoming lessons.

Unlike English, Kunwinjku spelling is very consistent – each letter always has the same sound (at least when it occurs in the same position in the word), there are no ‘silent’ sounds (like in ‘knock’ or ‘thought’).  In other words, the language is written as it sounds. But you have to first learn the sound values of each letter or combinations of letters.

We’ll focus on certain sounds in each of the upcoming units.

Go to the Quiz to explore some of the sounds of the language. In the following units you will find out more detail about many of these sounds.

* Since July 2015 when Kundjeyhmi (who used to write their variety of the language differently) switched to this system.


If you have trouble viewing this video, click HERE