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Dhauwurd Wurrung

Earliest reference to language name: 1841 (Robinson journal and papers

Meaning: unknown

Sub-dialects: Bi:gwurrung; Dhauwurdwurrung; Gaiwurrung; Gurngubanud; Wulluwurrung


This language and details of its dialects is better known than any other Victorian language, largely due to the extensive vocabulary collected by James Dawson (1881) and the grammatical sketch of RH Mathews (1904). On the basis of four primary sources (Robinson Journal and Papers, Dawson 1881, Mathews 1904, and Mathew Papers) it is possible to identify five dialects:


1. Wulluwurrung

Earliest reference to dialect name: 1841 (Robinson journal and papers)

Meaning: unknown

For a list of 23 variants of this name see Clark 1990.


2. Dhauwurdwurrung

Earliest reference to dialect name: 1904 (Mathews 1904)

Meaning: unknown

Clark 1990 lists 17 variants.


3. Gaiwurrung

Earliest reference to dialect name: 1881 (Dawson 1881)

Meaning: ‘Oh, dear! lip’ (Dawson 1881)

Three variants listed in Clark (1990).


4. Gurngubanud

Earliest reference to dialect name: 1881 (Dawson 1881)

Meaning: a descriptive name meaning ‘small lip’ or ‘short pronunciation’

Nine variants of name listed in Clark (1990).


5. Bi:gwurrung

Earliest reference to dialect name: 1881 (Dawson 1881)

Meaning: ‘kelp lip’, taken from the broad-leafed seaweed found in abundance along the Port Fairy seashore.

Clark (1990) lists 12 variants.


Three language names are offered in the literature: Dhauwurdwurrung, Gurngubanud, and Gundidjmara. Dhauwurdwurrung is the favoured language name as its usage was confirmed by John Mathew during a visit to Lake Condah Mission in 1907, when he was told by Peter Ewart, Ernest Mobourne and James Courtwine, that Dhauwurdwurrung was the language in that region and that Giraiwurrung was the next eastern language (Mathew Papers). The status of the name ‘Gundidjmara’ is discussed in Clark (1990). Dhauwurdwurrung formed a dialect continuum (language2) with its eastern neighbours Giraiwurrung and Djargurdwurrung. For more discussion see Krishna-Pillay (1996).


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