The following list explains the pronunciation only of those Yolŋu letters and sounds that are useful for a learner of the yiḏaki playing style.
Ä ä – long `a`, similar to the `a` in the English `star` or `father`. Example: bäpurru – clan group or funeral.
Interdental sounds – because of the tongue movements involved while pronouncing these sounds, all interdental sounds are important in playing yiḏaki; the tip of the tongue is between the front teeth, and the `h` is silent, not pronounced.
Dh dh – ‘h’ it is a silent letter as you are saying the English word`do`. Example: dhäwu – story
Nh, nh – Example: wanha – where.
Th th – Example: matha – tongue.
Retroflexed sounds – similar to the interdentals, the retroflexed sounds are important to learn while you are learning to play yiḏaki. While pronouncing this sound, the tip of the tongue turned back upwards, and its bottom touches the roof of the mouth. You might hear an `r` sound before the main consonant because of the similar tongue position between the two sounds, but do not roll the sound.
Ḏ ḏ – voiced retroflexed sound with a `d`, you might hear an `r` sound before the `d` but do not roll the sound. Example: yiḏaki – didgeridoo, maḏayin` – sacred.
Ḻ ḻ – you might hear an `r` sound before the `l` but do not roll the sound. Example: biḻma – clapstick.
Ṉ ṉ – you might hear an `r` sound before the `n` but do not roll the sound. Example: ŋäṉḏi – mother.
Ṯ ṯ – you might hear an `r` sound before the `t` but do not roll the sound. Example: gurruṯu – kin or kinship.
Lamio-alveolar sounds – a vital tongue movement to learn in order to understand traditional rhythms and didgeridoo sounds. While saying this sound, the blade of the tongue pushed forward up, the tip of the tongue behind the bottom teeth
Dj dj – Example: djäma – work.
Ny ny – similar to `n` in the English word `new. Example: manymak – good, ok, right.
Tj tj – Example: miny`tji – colour, design.
Ŋ ŋ – the tailed `n`, sometimes written as `ng`, sound similar to the `ng` in `sing`, `song`, long `..etc. `
Rr rr – rolled `r`. Example: rrupiya – money.
‘ – glottal stop. It is a voiceless sound, although as important as any other sounds in the Yolŋu languages. The airflow from the mouth is stopped by closing of the vocal cords. One of the best ways to try this sound is saying “m’m” when you are indicating “no”. The glottal stop can change the meaning of a word. Example: goḏarr’ – morning.
For the full list of phonemes see our Resources link.