Ngen'giwumirri is spoken by about 30 people in the region around the Daly River, most of them living in the communities of Nauiyu (previously Daly River Mission) and Peppimenarti, and smaller outstations. Ngen'giwumirri has two sister dialects, Ngan'gikurunggurr (about 150 speakers) and Ngan'gimerri (no longer spoken). There is no traditional cover name for these three dialects. Nick Reid’s 1990 grammar used the name Ngan’gityemerri as a cover term for all three varieties, but in recent years the standard practice has been to simply use Ngan’gi instead.
Ngen'giwumirri is one of the varieties described in Reid’s grammar 'Ngan’gityemerri: a language of the Daly River region, Northern Territory of Australia’ (2011), and also in Reid and McTaggart’s ‘Ngan’gi Dictionary’ (2008). There is a now a well developed Talking Ngan’gi website which includes which includes an online version of the dictionary, as well as audio and video of people speaking Ngen'giwumirri. Good ethnobotanical and ethnozoolical studies have also been published by McTaggart and Wightman.
Ngen'giwumirri belongs to the Southern Daly group. It is very closely related to Ngan'gikurunggurr and Ngan'gimerri, with which it shares highly similar sounds, verb structure, and about 90% of words in common. Speakers of any one variety can understand the others fairly easily, and linguists would describe these as dialects of a single language. These three varieties are also more distantly related to Murrinhpatha. Despite only very low levels of shared vocabulary, the clues to their distant relationship can be found in shared irregular verb forms. For community speakers, Ngan’gi and Murrinhpatha are completely separate languages, but historical linguists see in them evidence of having descended from a common ancestral language.
Ancestral Ngen'giwumirri country lies in the central south of the Daly region area. It is bordered on the western side by Marri Ngarr, the northwestern side by Ngan'gikurunggurr, the northeastern side by Marramaninjsji, and the southern side by the Jaminjung and Wagiman. The Ngen'giwumirri estates are rak-Merren, rak-Lafuganying, rak-Nudik, rak-Tyin Girim, rak-Nganambala, rak-Malfiyin and rak-Papangala.
To learn more about Ngen'giwumirri, please see Nick Reid's Talking Ngan’gi website.
Text by Associate Professor Nick Reid, University of New England.
Marrfurra, Patricia. 1995. Ngan’gikurungurr and Ngangiwumirri ethnobotany: Aboriginal plant use from the Daly River area, Northern Australia. Darwin: Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory.