A110: Marlba

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)
O'Grady et al (1966)
Other sources
Marlba (and variants) has been used in different ways by different sources - as an alternative name for Kalarku A2 (O'Grady, MS 3799) and Ngadjumaya A3 (Douglas 1968 and Oates 1975), and to refer to a language variety distinct from both of these. Tindale (1974:243) reports that malba means 'circumcised and subincised ones' and is a 'name applied by Wudjari W41 to Kalaako A2 and other immediately northern tribes' (i.e. Kalamaia A4 and Ngadjunmaia A3). However, von Brandenstein (1970:3-4) says it means 'man' and identifies it as the name of one of six language varieties in the Dundas District area (the others being Mirning (Eucla) A9, Fraser Range A74, Norseman A99, Windaga A111 and Kallaagu A2). Von Brandenstein (1980:2) comments 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...' Von Brandenstein (1970:3-4) mentions there being 14 remaining speakers of Marlba, which suggests that language data has been recorded. A wordlist taken by Daisy Bates, titled 'Native vocabularies - Balladonia area', may contain Marlba language data as it matches, in part, the location reported by von Brandenstein. Confusingly, though, von Brandenstein (1970:4, PMS 2143) also says that 'the location given by Capell (1963) A.25 is correct', but this is Capell's 'Ngadjunma'. Oates (1975) explains that 'von Brandenstein calls this dialect Marlba after the word for 'man', and the modern polyglot of all the dialects he calls Ngadju and Ngadju(n)maja'. As most sources treat Ngadjunma, Ngadju and Ngadjumaya as variants of the same language variety A3, distinguishing between the original Marlba variety and the modern day Ngadjumaya is likely to be very difficult. Consequently, while catalogue records containing the Marlba heading will ideally refer to the distinct language variety which preceded modern Ngadjumaya, they may in fact relate to modern-day Ngadjumaya A3, or even Kalarku A2.
  • Brandenstein, Carl G. von. 1970. Report [to A.I.A.S.] on field work conducted July/August 1970 as part of the 1969/1970 project Western Desert fringe study. PMS 2140
  • Brandenstein, Carl G. von. 1971a. Report on research... carried out for the A.I.A.S. PMS 2142.
  • Brandenstein, Carl G. von. 1971b. Report to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies on field work conducted September - December 1970 as part of the 1969/1970 project Western Desert fringe study. PMS 2143.
  • Brandenstein, Carl G. von. 1980. Ngadjumaja: an Aboriginal language of south-east Western Australia. Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachwissen-schaft der Universität Innsbruck.
  • Capell, Arthur. 1963. Linguistic survey of Australia. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.
  • 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.
  • Oates, Lynette F. 1975. The 1973 supplement to a revised linguistic survey of Australia. Armidale: Armidale Christian Book Centre.
  • Oates, Lynette F. 1988. Barranbinya: fragments of a New South Wales Aboriginal language. In Papers in Australian Linguistics 17, ed. P. Austin, et al., 185-204. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  • O'Grady, G.N. 1957-60. Njunga, Malba, Ooldean data. MS 3799.
  • O'Grady, G.N., C.F. Voegelin and F.M. Voegelin. 1966. Languages of the world: Indo-Pacific fascicle six. Anthropological Linguistics 8(2).
  • 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.
Potential data
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

Rock-holes and soaks around Balladonia, reaching north to Kopai Cliffs with the Murrunidja as neighbours and south to Israelite Bay. The location given by Capell (1963) A.25 is correct. 14 speakers of varying quality left. (von Brandenstein 1970:3-4).

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).

Manuscript note: 
Source Family Group Sub-group Name Language-dialect relationships
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