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Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir
Photograph: Supplied

An introduction to Boon Wurrung language from Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir

Boon Wurrung elder and language specialist Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir shares ten words that were once spoken in the coastal region of Victoria stretching from Werribee River to Wilson’s Promontory

Written by
Fay Stewart-Muir
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Note: This article was originally written for Time Out Melbourne's Deadly Issue in April 2017.

Our Victorian languages have been 'sleeping' languages for many years because of our old people not being able to speak them, because of the laws of the government of the day. I work for the Victorian Corporation for Languages in Fitzroy, assisting our communities throughout Victoria who want to speak their languages again... and sharing our language with school children. Here at VACL, our library has resources of most of the Victorian languages that the community can use.

Ten Boon Wurrung words and their meanings

You are dancing

You are dancing

Dance is important to Aboriginal people and tells stories of exciting events that occur at a certain times in their lives – hunting, a child born. It also has a lot to do with where you live on country.

You are hearing/listening

You are hearing/listening

This is very important when the Elders are passing on knowledge to children. If you don’t listen you miss part of the story and it won’t be repeated.

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What is your name?

What is your name?

With asking a name we also ask whose mob they belong to, as they could be related. It’s the first thing we ask of a Koori person.

A gathering place for many special occasions for our mob to get together to barter, arrange marriages, to create dances, to pass on knowledge and to catch up with extended families and for new additions to family to be introduced.

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Water in the billy

Water in the billy

This is an invitation to share food with each other and sit around and share stories.

We have two moieties in our traditional group.  There is Bundjil the eagle, creator of all that you can see on country – the hills and mountains, waterways, rivers, creeks and billabongs. The trees that give shelter to various creatures, and wood and bark for the houses or weelams of the Boon Wurrung peoples. He also was called upon to settle disputes between people.

The other moiety is Waang the black crow. He is our protector of the waterways, rivers, creeks and billabongs. He makes sure that fresh water would run and be in plentiful supply for our people and the birds and animals.

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Many footprints

Many footprints

This is a tracking device when out hunting but also to see what animals or birds have been down to the waterhole to drink.

Liwurruk-ik: Asking a person if she is a sister to say, Ben

Liwurruk-ik: Asking a person if she is a sister to say, Ben

Finding out about family and people in the family, who you are connected to.

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My house, where do you live?

My house, where do you live?

When in discussion about country (home).

River location

River location

It’s a location of where you live. Country to First Nations people is very important to them. It’s our mother; she provides the food for us to survive. If we do not look after our mother she will not look after us.

Did you know?
Photograph: Time Out

Did you know?

Boon Wurrung is the language spoken by one of the five tribes of the Kulin Nation. It shares over 90 per cent of its vocabulary with the Woiwurrung language.

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