A69: Bunara

AIATSIS code: 
AIATSIS reference name: 


Thesaurus heading language
Thesaurus heading people
ABN name
ABS name
Horton name
Ethnologue name
ISO 639-3 code
Tindale name
Tindale (1974)
Ngadi, Ngari (imperfect hearing of Ngardi), Panara (general descriptive term applied to more than one tribe, indicating those who live by winnowing grass seed in ['pan: a] or wooden dishes), Bunara, Boonara, Waiangara (of eastern tribes), Kolo (of the Pintubi), Waiangari (of Ngalia), Wain-gara, Waiangadi, Waringari (derogatory term used by Walpiri), Warangari, Kukuruba (name used by Ngalia), Woneiga, Wanayaga, Puruwantung and Buruwatung (of Birdsell), Manggai (a place name), ? Munga (of Mathews), Walmala (derogatory term), Wommana (has meaning similar to Walmala).
O'Grady et al (1966)
Other sources
Ngardi, Ngardilj, Ngarti, Waringari, Boonarra, Buna:ra, Ngadi, Ngari, Ngati, Panara, Boonara, Waiangara, Kolo, Waiangari, Wain gara, Waiangadi, Warangari, Kukuruba, Woneiga, Wanayaga, Puruwantung, Buruwatung, Manggai, Munga, Walmala, Wommana
Previously Bunara was treated as an alternative name for Ngardi A121. Tindale (1974) lists Bunara as an alternative for Ngardi (as well as for Kokatja A68); Cataldi (2007 p.c.) says 'punarra' in Ngardi means 'stripe' or the incision carved into a shield. She allows that it might have been used metaphorically to mean language, though she never heard people using punarra as a language name. However, both Oates and Oates (1970) and Oates (1975) treat Bunara and Ngardi as separate language varieties, and Capell (1940:425, 429) supplies distinct sets of language data for Ngadi A121 and Buna:ra (A69). Further, Capell describes Buna:ra as an eastern dialect of Wolmeri A66; this correspond to Cataldi's Eastern Walmajarri (see A66) (in Honeyman 2005:22), which is apparently closely related - and thus distinct from - Ngardi A121. Given this, Ngardi A121 and Bunara are now treated as distinct language headings in the Thesaurus and a new record has been created for Bunara in AUSTLANG. The code A69 was originally assigned to Bunara; this is reinstated and the new code A121 is assigned to Ngardi.
  • Capell, Arthur. 1940. The classification of languages in north and north-west Australia. Oceania 10(3):241-272; 10(4):404-433.
  • Capell, Arthur. 1963. Linguistic survey of Australia. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.
  • Cataldi, Lee. n.d. A Dictionary of Ngardi, University of Sydney.
  • Cataldi, Lee. n.d. Ngardi vocabulary and notes. (ASEDA 0737).
  • Honeyman, Tom. 2005. Topic and focus in Ngardi, University of Sydney: BA (Hons).
  • Oates, Lynette F. 1975. The 1973 supplement to a revised linguistic survey of Australia. Armidale: Armidale Christian Book Centre.
  • Oates, William J., and Lynette F. Oates. 1970. A revised linguistic survey of Australia: Australian Aboriginal Studies 33, Linguistic Series 12. Canberra: AIAS.
  • Robinson, Judy. 1999. Bushman of the red heart: Central Australian cameleer & explorer Ben Nicker 1908-1942. Rockhampton, Qld: Central Queensland University Press. (B R662.16/B1)
  • Terry, Michael. 1926. A surgical operation as performed by the Boonarra tribe of northern Australia, and a short vocabulary of the languages of some north Australian tribes. Man, vol. 26, pp. 193-194. (RS 57/6)
  • 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.
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

Sturt Creek south of Gregory Salt Sea, WA (Capell 1963). ... the region surrounding Bililuna station at the terminus of Sturt Creek (Capell 1940:423). O'Grady's well (Robinson 1999:94) Flora Valley, Halls Creek, Gregory's Sea, Bililuna station (Terry 1926:193-94).

  • Tindale, Norman. 1974. Tribal boundaries in Aboriginal Australia. Canberra: Division of National Mapping, Department of National Development.
  • Tsunoda, Tasaku. 1981. The Djaru language of Kimberley, Western Australia. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
Handbook of Kimberley Languages (1988): 

Kiyajarra (A52 ) in Handbook of Kimberley Languages (1988).

8.18 Ngardi / Ngarti

Names of the language and different spellings that have been used:
Ngardi (O'Grady, Oates), Ngari (Wafer), Ngadi (Capell, Berndt), Ngati (Hudson)
Classification of the language:
Central Western Desert type, Ngarrka subgroup
Identification codes:
Oates 1973: 58.3 (Oates & Oates 1970: 59.3c)
Capell: K3
Present number and distribution of speakers:
About 20-30 lived at Balgo Mission in 1980. Some at Gordon Downs, Billiluna, Lake Gregory, and a few at Yuendumu and Lajamanu (Hooker Creek). Traditionally the language was spoken in the area from Balgo to Gordon Downs.
People who have worked intensively on the language:
No one
Practical orthography:
Warlpiri orthography is suitable.
Word lists:
Capell (1952), Tindale (1952-1954), Wafer (1980)
Textual material:
Grammar or sketch grammar:
Material available on the language:
Capell, A. 1952. The Wailbri through their own eyes. Oceania 23. 110-132.
_____ .1962. Some linguistic types in Australia. Handbook of Australian Languages, Part II. (Oceania Linguistic Monographs, 7) Sydney: University of Sydney. (Contains a description of Waljbiri grammar on pages 15-50.)
McConvell, P. [Ngardi field notes.] manuscript.
Tindale, N.B. 1952-54. Field journal of Norman B. Tindale: 18th expedition under the auspices of Board for Anthropological Research, University of Adelaide and the University of California at Los Angeles, 1952-1954. 1233, 340pp. typescript & manuscript.
Tsunoda, T. [Ngardi field notes.] manuscript.
Wafer, J. 1980. Preliminary observations on Ngari. 8/9/80. 3+4pp. typescript. IAD. (about 170 words)
Language programme:
Language learning material:
Literacy material:

McGregor, William. 1988 Handbook of Kimberley Languages. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. © Author.

AIATSIS gratefully acknowledge William McGregor for permission to use his material in AUSTLANG.

Lee Cataldi, Kimberley Language Resource 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 Large (more than 200 pages) 4
Text Collection Large (more than 200 pages) 4
Grammar Sketch grammar (less than 100 pages) 2
Audio-visual More than 10 3
Manuscript note: 
Not available

Cataldi, Lee. Ngardi vocabulary and notes, ASEDA 0737.


Cataldi, Lee. Ngardi vocabulary and notes, ASEDA 0737.

Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005)          
Dixon (2002)   NORTHERN DESERT FRINGE SUBGROUP Yapa subgroup* Ngardi (or Ngardilj) Ngardi (or Ngardilj)
Wurm (1994) Pama-Nyungan South-West   Ngardi  
Walsh (1981) Pama-Nyungan South-West Ngarga Ngardi  
Oates (1975) Pama-Nyungan Central Western Desert Type Ngarga Bunara  
Wurm (1972) Pama-Nyungan Southwest (or Nyungic) Ngarga Ngardi  
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Pama-Nyungan Southwest, Ngumbin Ngarga Ngardi, Bunara