N112: Marra

AIATSIS code: 
N112
AIATSIS reference name: 
Marra

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Name
ABN name
-
ABS name
Marra
Horton name
Mara
Ethnologue name
Mara
ISO 639-3 code
mec
Tindale name
Mara
Thesaurus heading language
Marra language N112
Thesaurus heading (old)
Mara / Marra language (N112) (NT SD53-11)
Tindale (1974)
Marra, Leelalwarra (after Jalwara, a place name, an important lagoon south of Roper River), ? Walkonda.
O'Grady et al (1966)
Marra, Leelawarra
Glottocode
mara1385
Other sources
Maarra (used by the community) [Evans 2005:251] Marra (Power), Mara (Spencer and Gillen 1904) [Basedow 1907:3]
Synonyms
Marranbala, Mara, Warndarang, Leelalwarra, Leelawarra, Mala, Walkonda, Mara; Leelalwarra, Mara; Leelawarra, Ma:ra, Maarra, Walkonda
Comment
Comments: 
Marra is a non-Pama Nyungan language of the Northern Territory. Mara (N112) is classed as 'moderately genetically' related to Warndarang N120 (and Alawa N92) by Heath, who notes their divergent morphological structures. Similarities in general structure may be due to diffusional interaction (1981:4). Heath notes that Mara is a linguistic, not social grouping, and that it is the principle language of at least three remaining clans whose estates were 'on and around' the Limmen Bight River and its mouth (Heath, 1981:1). Mara speakers are known by their semimoiety and European names. Harvey examines classifications of the Marran language family beginning with O'Grady et al., who proposed it consisted of Marra (N112), Warndarrang N78 (and Alawa N92) a theory supported by Heath (see above); Merlan adds Mangarrayi N78 to this group. Harvey cites a lack of evidence, such as no common grammatical innovations, to link Marra and Warndarrang genetically. The high shared vocabulary count between them must be a result of borrowing (2012:358). This conclusion places the rest of the Marran family in some doubt (Harvey, 2012:329). See also Yukul N85.
References: 
  • Harvey, Mark. 2012. Wandarrang and Marr: A diffusional or genetic relationship? in Australian Journal of Linguistics (32)3 ed. Keith, A. pp 327-360.
  • Heath, Jeffrey G. 1981. Basic materials in Mara: grammar, texts and dictionary: Pacific Linguistics C-60. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  • Thompson, Maureen Marrangulu and Dinah Garadji and Betty Roberts. 1994. Niwi-rlini Nyawurlbarr-yurr ... We went to Mission Gorge ... Katherine NT : Katherine Regional Aboriginal Language Centre.
  • Singer, Ruth. 2002. Alphabetical Marra dictionary. Katherine, N.T. : Diwurruwurru-jaru Aboriginal Corporation.
Status: 
Confirmed
Location
State / Territory: 
NT
Location information: 
Roper River, up to circa Ngukurr, and from the Phelp River to the Limmen Bight River (Top End Handbook). Yugul Limmen River, north of the Allawa, to the coast, and west of the Anula (Basedow 1907:3). Tidal reaches of Roper River nearly to mouth of Hodgson River, south to Limmen Bight River; eastward to coast and Maria Island, north to Edward Island (Tindale 1974). The general associations were to the lower and middle Limmen Bight River. On the coast, affiliations included Maria Island and apparently Wuraliwuntya Creek. There was no precise information on the extent of inland affiliations in 2007. Marra affiliations on the Cox River extended from its junction with the Limmen Bight upstream for the portion of the Cox which runs east-west. When the Cox changes to run south-west & north-east, affiliations shift to Alawa. Nathan River homestead was associated with Marra. Marra affiliations extended towards Bauhinia Downs homestead (Harvey ASEDA 802).
Maps: 
-
Catalogue
Links
Programs
Activities: 
Ngukurr Language Centre has run intermittent language programs at the Ngukurr Community Education Centre (2005-2007; 2017; 2018).
People: 
Jeffrey Heath, Margaret Sharpe, Ruth Singer, Ngkurr Language Centre, Papulu Apparr-Kari Language Centre, Greg Dickson
Indigenous organisations: 
Speakers
Year Source Speaker numbers
1975Oates-
1984Senate-
1990Schmidt-
1996Census-
2001Census-
2004NILS23
2005Estimate23
2006Census58
2011Census9
2016Census8

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).

Documentation
Type Documentation Status Documentation Score
Word list Large (more than 200 pages) 4
Text Collection Medium (100-200 pages) 3
Grammar Large grammar (more than 200 pages) 4
Audio-visual More than 10 3
Manuscript note: 
tape transcription/field note available
Grammar: 

Heath, Jeffrey. 1981. Basic materials in Mara: grammar, texts and dictionary: Pacific Linguistics C60. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.

Dictionary: 
Singer, Ruth. 2002. Marra dictionary. Katherine, NT: Diwurruwurru-jaru Aboriginal Corporation.
Classification
Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005) Gunwingguan Maran Mara Mara Mara [dialects: Related to Warndarrang and Yugul, which may be extinct.]
Dixon (2002) ARNHEM LAND GROUP Marra/Warndarrang subgroup* Marra (or Marranbala) Marra (or Marranbala) Heath (1981a) possible further dialect: Yugul
Wurm (1994)
Walsh (1981) Maran Mara Gariyimar Mara
Oates (1975) Maran Maric Gariyimar Mara
Wurm (1972) Maran Maric Gariyimar Mara
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Maran Maric Gariyimar Mara