ABC, please! David Goopilil, Gulp ilil or David Gulpilil – Gul pi lil

David’s name uses the short “u” as it is in original Australian languages all over Australia. In other words, the “u” in most Aboriginal languages is the short “u” as in the word “put”.

It is not the “uh” (as in duck). And it is definitely not the “oo” sound as in “blue, cute, Duke”, which most other English first language people use all the time.

It is also not pronounced as gulp (swallowing hard) as some reporters are pronouncing it. The first syllable is Gul, not Gulp. It is Gul pi lil.

It is more like a short “o” not a long “oo” Goopilil, but more like Gol pi lil.

And it’s not an “a” as in “but” as above.

It is the short “u” as in the word “put”. Gul pi lil.

And Nhulunbuy is Nhu lun buy, u, u, u, as in put (like a short “o”, “o”, “o”) not Nhalanbuy.

The rule across Australia in most Aboriginal languages, “u” says “u” as in “put”.

Can we please get this right and stop insulting this great actor and other original Australian people and place names when we should be honouring them?


Thanks, RT



For further information, contact Why Warriors office: 08 8987 1664, or Richard Trudgen directly on 0400 880 954 or via

Why Warriors’ Founder and Director, Richard Trudgen, is a community educator and author who has lived and worked with Yolŋu people in Arnhem Land for 40 years, learning their language and customs. Richard authored the cross-cultural book, Why Warriors Lie Down and Die, and works passionately and tirelessly together with his local Yolŋu community to increase mutual understanding and respect between Balanda and Yolŋu.