Bigibigi Word of the Month — Celebrating Kriol in the UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages

Bigibigi Word of the Month — Celebrating Kriol in the UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages


Bigibigi is a Kriol word meaning pig.


Based on English, Kriol developed from a “pidgin” that was used during the early days of European colonisation and settlement to faciliate communication. It gradually spread from the east of the continent to the west and north, but over the years, as fewer people spoke Kriol, in most places this language died out. However, Kriol is still the first and main language spoken in some Indigenous communities in remote parts of the Northern Territory and Western Australia. It is estimated that in Australia today about 30,000 Indigenous people speak Kriol.

In some outback areas of the wet tropics, pigs thrive in the bushland and scrub. These feral pigs, an introduced species, cause considerable environmental damage by digging in the soil and alongside creeks, preying on native animals and eating native plants. Aboriginal rangers attempt to control the feral pig population to protect and preserve traditional lands. Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people hunt many of these feral pigs. Sometimes, piglets become separated from their mothers and are “rescued” and domesticated.

Moli det bigibigi (Molly the pig) is based on a real-life, Weetbix-eating pet bigibigi who lives in the Kriol-speaking community of Binjari near Katherine in the NT. This delightful picture book has been written in Kriol and English by Binjari woman Karen Manbulloo. It is one of nine books for children produced in workshops facilitated by ANU linguist Denise Angelo and ILF staff, with the support of the Binjari community and elders. Moli det bigibigi was published in 2017 by ILF by way of its Community Literacy Projects program. Multiple copies, along with the other eight books by the Binjari women, have been gifted to Kriol-speaking communities across the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Reading about Moli’s delightful antics as she grows from adorable piglet to quite a big pig, you and the kids will quickly pick up a few key words in Binjari Kriol.

To learn more about the Kriol langauge, please click here

  • Posted 18 July, 2019

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