Languages of Kakadu
Studies show that there were about 200 Aboriginal languages in Australia at the time of Eurpoean contact. These distinct languages have extensive vocabularies and complex grammars. In the time before non-Aboriginal settlement 12 languages were spoken in the Kakadu area. Today, only three are spoken on a regular basis: Gun-djeihmi, Kun-winjku and Jawoyn.
Many Aboriginal people will speak two, or more languages. Gun-djeihmi and Kun-winjku languages are regarded as dialects of one another because speakers can understand each other. Jawoyn is a separate language. These languages were spoken on, or adjacent to, the Arnhem Land escarpment and share similar structure and grammar. Because of this they, and other languages in the region, are grouped into a large language family called the Kunwinjkuan language family.
Gun-djeihmi is a living language.
Gun-djeihmi is the language spoken in the central part of Kakadu. Unlike English, the spelling system is very consistent, so once you have learnt the rules it is quite easy to to work out hoiw to correctly pronounce words. The Aboriginal Language Park Note below gives details on how to pronounce the Gun-djeihmi alphabet, and is also available at the Bowali Visitor Centre.