A50: Nyiyaparli

AIATSIS code: 
AIATSIS reference name: 


ABN name
ABS name
Horton name
Palyku (Nyiyaparli)
Ethnologue name
ISO 639-3 code
Tindale name
Thesaurus heading language
Nyiyaparli language A50
Thesaurus heading (old)
Nyiyaparli language (A50) (WA SF51-13)
Tindale (1974)
Njiabali (of western neighbors), Njijabali, Iabali, Janari (inlanders or newcomers, i.e., 'those who have come,' name given by western tribes), Jana.
O'Grady et al (1966)
Other sources
Njijapali, Nyiyapali [<ozbib>Dixon 2011:40$7367</ozbib>]
Palyku/Nyiyaparli, Njiyapali, Nijadali, Palyku, Bailgu, Binigura, Niabali, Paljgu, Iabali, Jana, Janari, Njiabadi, Njiabali, Njijabadi, Njijabali, Njijapali, Nyiyabali, Nyiyapali, Njiyabali
The ABS does not make a distinction between Nyiyaparli and Palyku A55 and thus census data may combine information on both of these. Originally, von Brandenstein (1972) described Nyiyaparli as being the name of a language, and Palyku A55 as the name of the people who speak this language. Since then, many researchers have considered Nyiyaparli and Palyku to be very closely related languages or the same language. According to Dench (1998), 'all work to date suggests that Nyiyaparli and Palyku are different names for what is essentially the same language'. Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre was, as of 2008, conducting research to find out whether this is in fact the case. Their 2012 edition of the Nyiyaparli dictionary describes 'Palykutharri' (being the language of the Palyku) as a dialect of Nyiyaparli, along with Nankilakuthu A108, Martuyitha A109 (referred to as 'high' and 'low' dialects, respectively) and Ngulipartu A72, though the treatment of Ngulipartu and Palyku as dialects of Nyiyaparli is not widely reported among the sources. The dictionary contains details about these dialects including their locations. Tindale (1974) lists Jana as an alternative name of Niabali (A50). However, Oates (1975:373) says that, from von Brandenstein's 1967 map, Jana appears to be part of Bidungu A40, which Oates equates with Ngaia-wangga A30.
  • Dench, Alan. 1998. What is a Ngayarta language? A reply to O'Grady and Laughren. Australian Journal of Linguistics 18(1):91-107.Dixon, Sally. 2011. How to read and write Pilbara languages. South Hedland: Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre.
  • Oates, Lynette F. 1975. The 1973 supplement to a revised linguistic survey of Australia. Armidale: Armidale Christian Book Centre.Sharp, Janet & Nicholas Thieberger. 1992. Bilybara: Aboriginal languages of the Pilbara region. Port Hedland: Wangka maya, The Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre.
  • 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.
  • von Brandenstein, Carl G. 1967. The language situation in the Pilbara - past and present. In Papers in Australian Linguistics 2, 1-20a, + 27 maps. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  • von Brandenstein, Carl G. 1972. Narratives from the north-west of Western Australia in Njijapali, language of the Paljgu. MS 2435.
  • Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre. 2008. Nyiyaparli dictionary 2008. South Hedland: Wangka Maya PALC.
  • Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre. 2012. Nyiyaparli dictionary with English-Nyiyaparli wordlist and topic wordlists. South Hedland: Wangka Maya PALC.
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

Headwaters of Oakover and Davis rivers above their junction; middle waters of the Fortescue River; northwest to Roy Hill; on Weedi Wolli Creek north of the Ophthalmia Range; east to Talawana (Tindale 1974). Contemporary location: Marble Bar, Port Hedland, Tom Price, Newman, Nullagine (Dixon 2011:40).

  • Tindale, Norman. 1974. Tribal boundaries in Aboriginal Australia. Canberra: Division of National Mapping, Department of National Development.
  • Dench, Alan. 1995. Martuthunira, a language of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  • Sharp, Janet. 2004. Nyangumarta: a language of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
Carl von Brandenstein, Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre
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 A few articles 1
Audio-visual 1-10 2
Manuscript note: 
tape transcription/field note available

Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre. 2004. Nyiyaparli 2004 interim dictionary and finderlists. South Hedland, WA: Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre. Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre. 2008. Nyiyaparli dictionary. South Hedland, WA: Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre.

Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005) Pama-Nyungan South-West Nijadali Nijadali  
Dixon (2002)   GASCOYNE RIVER TO PILBARA AREAL GROUP Pilbara/Ngayarta areal group Njiyapali Palyku (or Mangguldulkara or Paljarri)/Njiyapali
Wurm (1994) Pama-Nyungan South-West   Nyiyabali  
Walsh (1981) Pama-Nyungan South-West Wati/Western Desert Nyiyabali  
Oates (1975) Pama-Nyungan Western Desert Proper Wati Njiyabali, Jana  
Wurm (1972)          
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966)