A65: Mangala

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)
Manala (individual pronunciation by a Njangam-arda man), Mangala (orthodox version), Mangal, Minala, Mangula (? typographical error), Mangai (a form of name heard by Worms, 1953 MS).
O'Grady et al (1966)
Manala, Minala
Other sources
Mangula (Yngve Laurell) [<ozbib>Bostr&#246;m 2008:150$6396</ozbib>] Mungala [<ozbib>Dixon 2011:30$7367</ozbib>]
Mangarla, Djualin, Djuwali, Djuwalia, Jiwali, Koalgurdi, Manala, Mangai, Mangal, Mangula, Mangunda, Minala, Mungala, Yalmbau, Marrngu

McKelson (MS 2687) describes two dialects of Mangala: 'riverside Mangala' A122 in the north-east, adjacent to the Fitzroy River, and 'bush Mangala' A123, south-east of La Grange Mission. He does not provide data or descriptions of these dialects, though he makes notes in MS 3702 (Series 5, Item 2) that may correspond to dialectal differences.

Weber (2009:3) reports that Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre refers to these dialects according to the word for closing a discussion or event: 'Kakutu/Kakurtu' (riverside) and 'Ngulatu/Ngulartu' (bush). Weber notes that, while the differences between these dialects have not been documented, the Mangala dialect described in Hudson (1973) differs phonologically from that described in McKelson (1989).

McGregor (1988) lists four 'possible dialect names' for Mangala, Djuwali, Jiwali, Koalgurdi and Yalmbau, though no further information is given.

Kolig (PMS 2255) says Djualin A88, one of three dialects of Wolmadjeri A66, is strongly mixed with Malngala.

Weber investigates the Marrngu sub-group, first described by O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin, consisting of Mangala (A65), Nyangumarta A61 and Mangala A65. Weber’s comparative study of these three language varieties includes evidence that the aberrant phonotactics and phoneme distribution are a result of a high number of loanwords from the surrounding Nyulnyulan languages. The stability of verbal conjugations and inflectional systems in the Marrngu languages provides evidence for relatedness. Weber concludes the similarities between these three varieties result from shared archaisms and a shared absence of innovation (2009:2).


  • Dixon, Sally. 2011. How to read and write Pilbara languages. South Hedland: Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre.
  • Hudson, Joyce. 1973. Mangala word list. (PMS 2237)
  • Kolig, Erich. Report on first period of field research in the Fitzroy Crossing area, South Kimberleys, Western Australia. (PMS 2255).
  • McGregor, William. 1988. Handbook of Kimberley languages, vol. 1: General information: Pacific Linguistics C-105. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  • McKelson, K. n.d. Mangala. (MS 2687)
  • McKelson, K. 1989. A precis of Mangala grammar. (MS 3702, Series 5, Item 4.)
  • McKelson, K. 1989. Mangala language material. (MS 3702, Series 5, Item 2.)
  • O'Ferral, I. 1974 A sketch grammar of Mangala, an Australian language of north-western Western Australia. (PMS 4352)
  • Weber, Natalie. The Marrngu subgroup. Unpublished ms Rice University, Houston Texas. PMS 6481.

  • 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: 

On the desert plateau about the McLarty Hills; north to Geegully Creek, n.n. ['Tjirkali], and headwaters of Edgar Range; northwest to plateau above Dampier Downs, extending no nearer than 50 miles (80 km.) to the coast; south to a known E-W line of salty waters along 21 ° latitude including Tandalgoo, n.n. ['Tjandalkuru]; east to a line about 40 miles (55 km.) east of Joanna Springs, n.n. ['Ka:lun] and ['Pikuragu] (Tindale 1974).

Contemporary location: Bidyadanga, Broome, Looma, Warralong, Strelley (Dixon 2011:30).


  • Tindale, Norman. 1974. Tribal boundaries in Aboriginal Australia. Canberra: Division of National Mapping, Department of National Development.
  • Sharp, Janet. 2004. Nyangumarta: a language of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
Handbook of Kimberley Languages (1988): 

Nyiyaparli (A50 ) in Handbook of Kimberley Languages (1988).

8.4 Mangala / Mangarla

Names of the language and different spellings that have been used:
Manala, Mangai, Mangala (AIAS, Capell, McKelson, Oates), Mangarla (Black & Walsh, KLS), Ma?ala (McKelson, Worms), Minala, Mungala, Possible dialect names include:, Djuwali , Jiwali, Koalgurdi, Yalmbau
The recommended spelling, Mangala, is the spelling that has been used in the language programme in La Grange school. However, strictly speaking, it should be written Mangarla in the practical orthography for the language: the l-sound is retroflex (see section 1.2.1).
Classification of the language:
Pama-Nyungan family; Marrngu subgroup
Identification codes:
Oates 1973: 57.3
Capell: A21
Present number and distribution of speakers:
La Grange Mission, Broome
Black & Walsh - up to 20 speakers
Vaszolyi - nearly extinct
Black & Walsh would seem to be the more reliable estimate.
People who have worked intensively on the language:
Arthur Capell, late 1930s, La Grange, Broome
Fr. Kevin McKelson, since 1950s, mainly at La Grange
Practical orthography:
The South Kimberley orthography is used in the language programme in La Grange school.
Word lists:
Capell (1940), Hudson (1973), McKelson (1968, 1974b), O'Ferrall (1974), Tindale (1952-1954), Vaszolyi (1972)
Textual material:
Catholic Church (1974), Keogh (1981)
Grammar or sketch grammar:
McKelson (1974b, 1977), O'Ferrall (1974)
Material available on the language:
Brandenstein, C-G von. 1965. Ein Abessiv im Gemein-Australischen. Anthropos 60. 646-662.
_____ .1970. Portuguese loan words in Aboriginal languages of north-western Australia (a problem of Indo-European and Finno-Ugrian comparative linguistics.) In Wurm, S.A. & Laycock, D.C. (eds), Pacific linguistics in honour of Arthur Capell. Canberra: PL, C-13. 617-650.
Capell, A. 1940. The classification of languages in north and north-west Australia. Oceania 10. 241-272, 404-433.
Catholic Church. 1974. Liturgy and ritual. Our father, Hail Mary (adapted). 8pp. manuscript. AIAS
Geytenbeek, B.B & Geytenbeek, H. 1980. Nyangumarta field notes, 1976-1979. 352pp. manuscript. AIAS Ms 1482. (A1;B5).
Hudson, J. 1973. [Mangarla word list.] 12pp. manuscript. AIAS (A2;B1).
Keogh, R.D. 1981. The two men: an Aboriginal song cycle from the Kimberleys. B.Mus (Hons) thesis, University of Sydney.
McKelson, K. 1968. [Letter to A.I.A.S.]. 1p. AIAS File T66/70.
_____ .1974a. Catholic Church. Liturgy and ritual. Our father, Hail Mary (adapted). 7pp. manuscript. AIAS.
_____ .1974b. Studies in Ma?ala. typescript. AIAS Ms 291. (A1;B5).
_____ .1977. Basic Mangala. 20pp. typescript. AIAS pMs 536. (A1;B4).
_____ .1981. Notes for staff on La Grange Mission: kinship. Nelen Yubu 7. 3-17.
_____ .1983. [Languages spoken at La Grange, Fitzroy Crossing, Broome, Port Hedland areas of Western Australia.] Part 5, Learn some Aboriginal: learn some Mangala, 40 lessons. typescript. AIAS Ms 1837.
Nekes, H. 1939. The pronoun in the Nyol-Nyol (Nyul-Nyul) and related dialects. In Elkin, A.P. (ed.), Studies in Australian Linguistics. (Oceania Monograph, 3) Sydney: University of Sydney.
Nekes, H. & Worms, E.A. 1953. Australian languages. (Micro-Bibliotheca Anthropos, 10) Fribourg: Anthropos-Institut. 1058pp. AIAS MF 4.
O'Ferrall, I. 1974. A sketch grammar of Mangala, and Australian language of north-western Western Australia. 20pp. typescript. AIAS pA3 112. (A3a;B1).
O'Grady, G.N. 1968. [Language material from Western Australia.] 364pp. manuscript. AIAS Ms 321. (A1;B2).
Peile, A.R. 1965a. [Letter to A.I.A.S.]. 2pp. AIAS File 64/14, folio 12.
_____ .1965b. [Letter to A.I.A.S.]. 2pp. AIAS File 64/14, folio 14.
Petri, H. 1969. Research in the Kimberley region 1969, focusing on Australian Aboriginal ritual and mythology. Anthropology News 6. 2-3.
Thieberger, N. 1987. Handbook of WA Aboriginal languages (south of the Kimberley region). first draft. typescript. Mt. Lawley: Institute of Applied Aboriginal Studies.
Tindale, N.B. 1952-1954. 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 and manuscript. South Australian Museum.
Tsunoda, T. nd. Comments on K. McKelson's 'A comparative study of pronouns'. 8pp. typescript and manuscript. AIAS pMs 1882.
Vaszolyi, E.G. 1972. Mangala vocabulary. 167pp. manuscript. AIAS Ms 426.
Worms, E.A. 1938a. Foreign words in some Kimberley tribes in North-Western Australia. Oceania 8. 458-462.
_____ .1938b. Onomatopoeia in some Kimberley tribes of North-West Australia. Oceania 8. 453-457.
_____ .1944. Aboriginal place names in Kimberley, Western Australia. Oceania 14. 284-310.
_____ .1950. Feure und feuerzeuger in sage und brauch der Nordwest Australier. Anthropos 48. 145-164.
_____ .1959. Verbannungslied eines australischen Wildbeuters: ein Beitrag zur Lyrik der Bad. Anthropos 54. 154-168.
Language programme:
Since 1985 La Grange school has run language programmes in the five traditional languages, including Mangala.
Language learning material:
McKelson (1977, 1983)
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.

Brigitte Agnew, Fr Kevin McKelson, Eric Vaszolyi, Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre, Jarlmadangah Burru Aboriginal Corporation
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 Medium (100-200 pages) 3
Text Collection Less than 20 pages 1
Grammar Sketch grammar (less than 100 pages) 2
Audio-visual More than 10 3
Manuscript note: 
tape transcription/field note available

McKelson, Fr Kevin R. 2004. An introduction to Mangala: 40 lessons of Mangala. Broome, WA: University of Notre Dame, Broome Campus.


McKelson, Fr Kevin R. 1989. Mangala wordlist, ASEDA 0220.

Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre. 2005. Mangala dictionary and topical finderlists 2005. South Headland: Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre.

Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005) Pama-Nyungan South-West Mangala Mangala  
Dixon (2002)   MANGUNJ AREAL GROUP   Mangala Mangala
Wurm (1994) Pama-Nyungan South-West   Mangarla  
Walsh (1981) Pama-Nyungan South-West Marngu Mangarla  
Oates (1975) Pama-Nyungan Western Desert Proper Marngu Mangarla  
Wurm (1972) Pama-Nyungan Southwest (or Nyungic) Marngu Mangarla  
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Pama-Nyungan Southwest Marngu Mangala