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The Sydney Language (Dharug & Eora)

Jan 28, 2019

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The Sydney Language is the name given to the Australian Aboriginal language that was spoken in the greater Sydney area, comprising Dharug and Eora. The names Dharug and Eora were given by linguists to refer to the inland and coastal dialects of the language.

Dharug (also Dharuk, Darug, Daruk) is the traditional language of the Australian Aboriginal people in the inland areas of greater Sydney. The name Dharug was not recorded by Europeans until late in the 19th century, when it was applied, not entirely clearly, to people who had lived around what are now Camden, Campbelltown, Liverpool and Penrith, possibly extending up to the Hawkesbury River and east to the Sydney coast.

Eora (also Iora, Iyora) comes from yura (person, human being), and was used by some of the settlers as a general term for the Indigenous people of the Sydney region.  

Dharug and Eora should probably be regarded as dialects of a single language. It is this language which gave English many of its earliest Australian borrowings.

Here are some names of common Australian animals and plants which come from Dharug:

bettong from Dharug badang

Macquarie Dictionary definition-bettong-any of various small nocturnal marsupials of the genus Bettongia, and related genera, which resemble a small wallaby with brown-grey fur above and white below, as the woylie or the eastern bettong.

boobook from Dharug bug-bug or bubug, of imitative origin

 Macquarie Dictionary definition-boobook-a small owl, Ninox boobook, brownish, with white-spotted back and wings and large dark patches behind the eyes; widely distributed in Australia, New Guinea, NZ and adjacent islands; southern boobook.

dingo from Dharug din-gu

Macquarie Dictionary definition-dingo- a wild dog, Canis familiaris, usually tawny-yellow in colour, with erect ears, a bushy tail and distinctive gait, and with a call resembling a howl or yelp rather than a bark, found throughout mainland Australia, New Guinea and South-East Asia; brought to Australia about 4000 years ago probably by Indonesian seafarers; pure populations endangered by hybridisation with feral domestic dog; native dog.

koala from Dharug gulawang

Macquarie Dictionary definition-koala-a tailless, grey, furry, arboreal diprotodont marsupial, Phascolarctos cinereus, of eastern Australia; the state faunal emblem of Qld.

wallaby from Dharug walaba

Macquarie Dictionary definiton-wallaby-any of various smaller members of the family Macropodidae, many resembling kangaroos, belonging to a number of different genera, as Macropus (as the tammar and parma), Thylogale (as the smaller pademelons), Setonix (as the quokka), Onychogalea (as the nail-tailed wallabies), Lagorchestes and Lagostrophus (as the hare-wallabies), Petrogale (as the rock-wallabies).

waratah Dharug warata red-flowering tree

Macquarie Dictionary definition-waratah- a shrub or small tree, Telopea speciosissima, which has a dense globular head of red flowers surrounded by red bracts; the floral emblem of NSW.

wombat from Dharug wambad

Macquarie Dictionary definition-wombat-any of several species of large, burrowing marsupials constituting the family Vombatidae, heavily built with short legs and a rudimentary tail, and somewhat resembling small bears.


Do you know of any other great Dharug or Eora words? Let us know in the comments section below!


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