Mirning is a language associated with the far west-coast of South Australia, along the Great Australian Bight. There is also a western community on the coast of Western Australia with their own dialect. The coast – especially the head of the Great Australian Bight – is a significant area for the Mirning people, as they have always been connected to water and to whales, the totem animal.
Mirning-Kokatha woman Iris Burgoyne has written an account of her life and her people entitled ‘Mirning: We are the Whales’ (2000), in which she describes Mirning culture, language, and history. A word list of the Mirning language has been collated by the University of Adelaide which features extracts of notes written by Geoff and Alix O’Grady. Geoff, a linguist, and his wife Alix, a historian, researched and recorded Mirning language between 1959 and 1968, and though their work was very technical, it is now readily accessible thanks to the Mirning word list project. Currently, the Far West Language Centre in Ceduna is undertaking Mirning language revival activities.
Mirning people live in many communities now, including Port Lincoln, Ceduna, Yalata, Port Pirie, Koonibba, and Adelaide.
AIATSIS id : A.09
Ba:duk (term used by others, meaning ‘circumcised’, also can mean ‘ignorant’), Baaduk, Bardok, East Meening (term coined by P. W. Schmidt; for West Mining had term Ngad-junmaia), East Mining, Ikala, Ikula, Jirkala-Mining (jirkala / yirkala = ‘buck bush’, an indirect reference to those who live on the cliff top and open plateau) , Julbara, Julbari (means ‘south,’ term applied by groups to north), Jurgala, Jurgula, Meening, Minal-njunga, Mining (valid alternative pronunciation), Mininj (where j = y), Minnal-yungar, Minning, Minninng, Mirin, Mirning (used by AIATSIS), Mirningj (Brandenstein), Mirniny (used by O’Grady), Murram, Ngadjadjara, Ngadjudjara and Ngadjuwonga (hearsay names applied by Jangkundjara / Yankunytjatjara), Ngandada, Ngandatha, Wanbiri (basic meaning = ‘sea coast’), Wanmaraing, Warnabinnie, Warnabirri, Warna-birrie, Wonbil also Wonburi (Kokatha names for the Jirkala-mirning), Wonunda, Wonunda-meening (‘wonunda’, basic meaning of ‘low country,’ hence applies to people living around Eyre and south of the Hampton cliff scarp), Wonunda-minung, Yerkla-mining, Yircla, Yirkala-Mining, Yirkla, Yirola, Yoongar.
The above map is based upon the Horton Indigenous Map of Australia © Aboriginal Studies Press, AIATSIS, and Auslig/Sinclair, Knight, Merz, 1996. The full map is available on the AIATSIS website. The locations of the languages of SA, as stated on the this website are not intended for Land Claim use, and are an approximate guide only. Individual language project locations are based on information from publicly available MILR (ILS) documents.