A3: Ngadjumaya / Ngadju

AIATSIS code: 
AIATSIS reference name: 
Ngadjumaya / Ngadju


Thesaurus heading language
Thesaurus heading people
ABN name
ABS name
Horton name
Ethnologue name
ISO 639-3 code
Tindale name
Tindale (1974)
Ngadjunpakara, Ngadjunpukara, Ngadjunma (valid short form of name), Ngadju: (['nadan] = yes), Ba:donjunga (i.e., subincised men, Wudjari term), Bardok (means 'subin-cised'), Pardoak (Wiilman term), Ngadjumaja (of Njunga tribe to south), Malba (general name for their language; it is applied by southern tribes to the languages of the Kalaako and Kalamaia as well as the Ngadjunmaia; the term really means the 'circumcised ones'), Fraser Range tribe, Minninng, West Meening (term coined by P. W. Schmidt), West Mining, Buljigu (dialect spoken by northern Ngadjunmaia hordes).
O'Grady et al (1966)
Other sources
Ngatju, Wangka Malpa [Douglas 1968:4] Ngajumaya, Karlaaku, Ngajunka, Ngajunkarra [Wangka Maya PALC 2008] Marlpamaya [Marmion p.c. 2013]
Ngatjumaya, Ngatyumaya, Ngadjunmaya, Ngatjunmay, Galagu, Kalako, Ngadjunmaia, Ba:donjunga, Badonjunga, Bardojunga, Bardok, Buljigu, Fraser Range tribe, Malba, Marlba, Marlpa, Minninng, Ngadjumaja, Ngadjunma, Ngadjunpakara, Ngadjunpukara, Ngadyunma, Ngatju, Ngatjumay, Ngatjunmaya, Norseman, Pardoak, Tchaakalaaga, Wangka malpa, West Meening, West Mining, Ngadyumaya, Ngadjunma/Marlba, Wangka Malpa, Ngadju:

Von Brandenstein uses the terms Ngadju and Ngadjumaja to refer to a 'mixed' language consisting of formerly separate dialects in the Dundas District area including Mirningj [sic] A9, Marlba A110, Fraser Range A74, Norseman A99, Windaga  A111 and Kallaagu A2, commenting that 'it will be difficult to extract the different components of the Dundas District languages ... from the mixed language now called Ngadju A3 which is still spoken...' (1980:2).

Walsh (1981) maps Ngatjunmaya and Ngatjumay as separate languages but they probably refer to the same language, Ngadjumaya. 

Ngatjumay in Douglas (1968) appears to be the equivalent of von Brandenstein's Ngadju.

Sue Hanson (Wangka Maya PALC 2008) mentions an unpublished sketch grammar written by Steven Roberts. Doug Marmion (2013 p.c.) advises that this is actually a reanalysis of von Brandenstein 1980 using a more standard linguistic approach.

Oates (1975) gives Marlba (A110 in this database) as an equivalent to Ngadjunma (A3) and Tindale (1974:251) includes Malba as an alternative name for not only Ngadjunmaia (A3) but also Kalaako A2 and Kalamaia A4.

Marmion (p.c.) mentions that Ngajumaya speakers say that their language should be called 'Marlpamaya', and that this may be adopted at some point in the near future.



  • Brandenstein, Carl G. von. 1980. Ngadjumaja: an Aboriginal language of south-east Western Australia. Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachwissen-schaft der Universität Innsbruck.
  • Douglas, Wilfrid H. 1968. The Aboriginal languages of south-west Australia: speech forms in current use and a technical description of Njungar: Australian Aboriginal Studies 14, Linguistic Series 4. Canberra: AIAS.
  • Tindale, Norman B. 1974. Aboriginal tribes of Australia: their terrain, environmental controls, distribution, limits, and proper names. Berkeley: University of California Press/Canberra: Australian National University Press.
  • Walsh, Michael. 1981. Maps of Australia and Tasmania. In Language atlas of the Pacific area Pt 1, eds S. A. Wurm and Shirô Hattori. Canberra: Australian Academy of the Humanities.
  • Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre. 2008. Ngajumaya dictionary 2008. South Hedland, WA: Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre.
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

Goddard Creek south to Mount Ragged, Israelite Bay, and Point Malcolm, possession of the latter place being a matter of dispute with the Njunga people since before contact times; west to Fraser Range; east to near Narethal and to near Point Culver on the coast; at Mount Andrew and Balladonia (Tindale 1974).

Contemporary location: The very few speakers are now spread from the Kalgoorlie region through to Esperance. (Wangka Maya PALC 2008).


  • Tindale, Norman. 1974. Tribal boundaries in Aboriginal Australia. Canberra: Division of National Mapping, Department of National Development.

AIATSIS Centre for Australian Languages research fellow, Doug Marmion, made three visits to the Ngajumaya region over 2012 - 2013 to work with Ngajumaya speakers and community members on establishing a standard orthography, transcribing and analysing language data from historical documents, and assisting with the development of language learning programs for young people.

Carl von Brandenstein, Norman Tindale, Geoffrey O'Grady, Wilfrid Douglas, Steven Roberts, Doug Marmion, Sue Hanson
Indigenous organisations: 
Year Source Speaker numbers

Speaker numbers were measured differently across the censuses and various other sources listed in AUSTLANG. You are encouraged to refer to the sources.

Speaker numbers for ‘NILS 2004’ and ‘2005 estimate’ come from 'Table F.3: Numbers of speakers of Australian Indigenous languages (various surveys)' in 'Appendix F NILS endangerment and absolute number results' in McConvell, Marmion and McNicol 2005, pages 198-230 (PDF, 2.5MB).

Type Documentation Status Documentation Score
Word list Small (20-100 pages) 2
Text Collection Small (20-100 pages) 2
Grammar Sketch grammar (less than 100 pages) 2
Audio-visual None 0
Manuscript note: 
tape transcription/field note available (Bates)

von Brandenstein, Carl. 1980. Ngadjumaja: an Aboriginal language of southeast Western Australia. Innsbruck: Institut fur Sprachwissenschaft det Universitat Innsbruck.


von Brandenstein, Carl. 1980. Ngadjumaja: an Aboriginal language of southeast Western Australia. Innsbruck: Institut fur Sprachwissenschaft det Universitat Innsbruck.

Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005) Pama-Nyungan South-West Mirning Ngadjunmaya Ngadjunmaya [dialects: Related to Kalarko.]
Dixon (2002)   WESTERN BIGHT GROUP   Ngadjunmaya Kalaaku (=Ngadjunmaya)
Wurm (1994) Pama-Nyungan South-West   Ngatjunmaya, Ngatjumay  
Walsh (1981) Pama-Nyungan South-West Mirning ? Nyungar Ngadjunmaya, Ngatjumay  
Oates (1975) Pama-Nyungan Pilbara-Nyungar (Southwest) Mirninj (Ngadju) Ngadjunma/Marlba  
Wurm (1972) Pama-Nyungan Southwest (or Nyungic) Mirniny Ngadjunma  
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Pama-Nyungan Southwest Mirniny Ngadjunma