C14: Alyawarr

AIATSIS code: 
AIATSIS reference name: 


Thesaurus heading language
Thesaurus heading people
ABN name
Alyawarra language
ABS name
Horton name
Ethnologue name
ISO 639-3 code
Tindale name
Tindale (1974)
Il(l)iaura, Iljauara, Iljawara, Ilyauarra, Ilyowra, Illyowra, Illura (spelling in 1953 Northern Territory official document), Aliwara (Kaititj name), Aliawara, Aljawara (a Kaititj pronunciation), Alyawara, Ilawara (Ngalia term), Iliama (typographical error), Jaljuwara (western tribal pronunciation), Yalyuwara.
O'Grady et al (1966)
Illiaura, Iljaura, Ilyuarra, Illyowra
Other sources
Aljawarra, Alyawarre, Iliaura, Aliawara, Aliwara, Aljawara, Alyawara, Ilawara, Iliama, Iljauara, Iljawara, Illiaura, Illura, Illyowra, Ilyauarra, Ilyowra, Jajuwara, Yalyuwara, Iliaura, Ilja:wara, Iljaura, Ilyaurra, Ja:wara, Aljawara, Ilaurainya, Udnla, Ilyuarra, Alyawarra, Aliawara, Alja:wara, Alyuwara, Illaura, Iloura, Ilyawara, Ilywara, Jaljuwara, Yalyuwara , Alyawerr, Alja:wara, Alyawarri, Arandic

Alyawarr is an Arandic language C48 variety. Green et al. mention significant dialect variation in Alyawarr, especially between Lake Nash (Ilperrelhelam) and the western communities such as Antarrengeny and Wetenngerr in both vocabulary and grammatical constructions. These dialects are a result of Alyawarr people moving north to Ilperrelhelam in the twenties and thirties from the Sandover, as far south as Arltunga, to escape conflict and to be closer to work and rations (2019: 1).

The Alyawarr dictionary indicates dialectal differences where they occur (Green et al. 2019). Breen describes southern and northern Alyawarr phonology in separate sections (2001:56-59); he also notes that eastern form of Anmatyerr is closer to southern Alyawarr than with western Anmatyerr (2001:46-47)

Wilkins (in Henderson 2013:12) provides an overview of the Arandic languages with two major sub-groups: Artwe (~Urtwe) composed of Upper Arrernte (Eastern Arrernte, Western Arrernte C47, Alyawarr (C14), Anmatyerr C8.1 ) and Lower Arrernte C29 (Lower South Arandic). The other major subgroup is called Artweye, with one member Kaytetye C13. See also Arrernte C8, Pertame C46; Lower Arrernte C29; Ayerrerenge G12; Antekerrepenhe C12 and Akarre C28.


  • Breen, Gavan. 2001. The wonders of Arandic phonology. In Forty Years on : Ken Hale and Australian languages, eds. Jane Simpson, David Nash, Mary Laughren, Peter Austin and Barry Alpher, 45-69.
  • Green, Jenny. 1992. Alyawarr to English dictionary. Alice Springs: IAD Press.
    Green, Jenny, David Blackman, David Moore. 2019. Alyawarr to English dictionary, 2nd edition. Alice Springs: IAD Press
  • Harvey, Mark. 2008. Non-Pama-Nyungan Languages: land-language associations at colonisation. (AILEC 0802)
  • Henderson, John. 2013. Topics in eastern and central Arrernte grammar. Muenchen : LINCOM Europa.
  • 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.
  • Yallop, Colin L. 1977. Alyawarra: an Aboriginal language of central Australia: Australian Aboriginal Studies, Research and Regional Studies 10. Canberra: AIAS.
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

an area roughly bounded by Hatches Creek, Utopia, MacDonald Downs and Ooratippra (Yallop 1977:3) Sandover, Bundey, Ooratippra, and Fraser creeks; Mount Swan, northern face of Hart Range, Plenty River north and west of Ilbala, Jervois Range, Mount Playford, Elkedra River; at MacDonald Downs and Huckitta (Tindale 1974). The general territorial association was to the south-eastern drainages of the Davenport Ranges and thence eastwards to Argadargada waterhole. Eastward limit of associations in the Argadargada waterhole area where associations changed to Ayerrereng. Northern limit of associations along the drainage divide in the Davenport ranges from Skinner Creek to Yaddanilla Creek. Canteen Creek was associated with Wakaya. Western limit of associations was Skinner Creek drainage. Murray Downs was associated with Alyawarr. Ali Curung was associated with Kaytetye (Harvey ASEDA 802).

  • Tindale, Norman. 1974. Tribal boundaries in Aboriginal Australia. Canberra: Division of National Mapping, Department of National Development.
  • Institute for Aboriginal Development. 2002. Central Australian Aboriginal languages: current distribution. Alice Springs: IAD Press.
Sourcebook for Central Australian Languages (1981): 

Ngukaja (A101* ) in Sourcebook for Central Australian Languages (1981).


Names of the language and different spellings that have been used:

Alyawara (KH, Yallop, AIAS), Alyawarra (SAW), Pulainya (extinct Lake Nash dialect), Aljawara (Yallop), Alja:wara (AC, original AIAS), Ilaurainya, Udnla (DB), Iljawara (Yallop), Iliaura (T, SAW, O'GV, RLS), Iljaura, Illiaura, Illyowra, Ilyuarra

Classification of the language:

Pama-Nyungan Family, Arandic Group, Urtwa Subgroup

Identification codes:

Oates '73: 66.1a

AIAS: C.014

Capell: C2

Present number and distribution of speakers:

Milliken, 1972 -- 796

Black, 1979 -- up to 500

Lake Nash, McDonald Downs, Warrabri, Murray Downs,

Ammaroo, Utopia, Ngurratiji, Tennant Creek

Hale: Northern dialect around Ammaroo, southern dialect around McDonald Downs, share 83% common vocabulary. Southern dialect mutually intelligible with central Aranda.

People who have worked intensively on the language:

Nancy Turtle and Carol Morris are doing a depth study at Warrabri (Ali-Curung).

Practical orthography:

IAD Arandic orthography, in preparation.

Word lists:

Yallop, 1976(?), 1977.

Grammar or sketch grammar:

Yallop, 1970; Turtle, work in progress.

Material available on the language:

Breen, J.G. Field notes (brief). 15 min. tape-recording.

Hale, K.L. n.d. Arandic word list. Mimeo. M.I.T.

---------- 1962. Internal relationships in Arandic of Central Australia. map. p.171-183 in A. Capell Some Linguistic Types in Australia. Handbook of Australian Languages, Part II. Oceania Linguistic Monographs No. 7. Sydney: University of Sydney.

---------- 1966. Kinship reflections in syntax: some Australian languages. Word 22, 318-324.

---------- 1981. Alyawarra flora terms. 14p. ts. M.I.T.

---------- 1981. Alyawarra place names. 4p. ts. M.I.T.

Tindale, N.B. 1930 Anthropological expedition to Macdonald Downs, Central Australia: journal and field notes. Aug-Spt. 1930. 172p. + suppl. data. (200 word vocab).

Turtle, Nancy. 1972. Notes on phonology and grammar of Alyawara-Murray Downs area: May/Aug. 1972. Lake Nash: Oct./Dec. 1972. (SIL file)

---------- 1977. Alyawarra phonology, p.1-56 in Five Papers in Australian Phonologies. Workpapers of SIL-AAB A:1. SIL.

Wafer, James. 1978. Report on visit to Warrabri school, 3rd term, 1978. 3p. xerox typescript. IAD.

Yallop, Colin. 1968. Alyawara elicited material. Sydney. ii,43p. typescript.

---------- 1968. The Alyawara in relation to their territory and their neighbours. Sydney. iii,41p. maps. typescript.

---------- 1968. A brief survey of Alyawara kinship terminology in use at Lake Nash, N.T. Sydney. iii,38p. diags., map. Typescript.

---------- 1968. Eight Alyawara texts. Sydney. 73p. map. Typescript.

---------- 1968. Thirty-seven Aljawara texts. 114p. Typescript.

---------- 1969. The Aljawara and their territory. Oceania 39.3,187-197.

---------- 1970. A description of the Aljawara language. Ph.D. thesis, Macquarie University. 342p.

---------- 1977. Alyawarra. An Aboriginal Language of Central Australia. Australian Aboriginal Studies Research and Regional Studies No. 10. AIAS.

Literacy material:


Kathy Menning (comp.) and David Nash (ed.) 1981. © IAD Press

AIATSIS gratefully acknowledges IAD Press for permission to use this material in AUSTLANG.

Jenny Green, Colin Yallop, David Moore, Jeannie Devitt, Papulu Apparr-Kari Language Centre
Indigenous organisations: 
Year Source Speaker numbers
1984Senate400 - 500
1990Schmidtincl. with Arrente C8

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 Medium (100-200 pages) 3
Grammar Small grammar (100-200 pages) 3
Audio-visual More than 10 3
Manuscript note: 
tape transcription/field note available

Yallop, Colin. 1977. Alyawarra: an Aboriginal language of central Australia. Canberra: AIAS.


Green, Jenny. 1992. Alyawarr to English dictionary. Alice Springs: IAD Press.

Moore, David. 2004. Alyawarr picture dictionary. Alice Springs: IAD Press.

Green, Jenny, David Moore, David Blackman. 2019. Alyawarr to English dictionary. Alice Springs: IAD Press

Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005) Pama-Nyungan Arandic   Alyawarr Alyawarr [dialects: Related to Arrernte, Arrernte Akerre, Anmatyerre, Kaytetye.]
Dixon (2002)   ARANDIC AREAL GROUP   Aljawarra (Alyawarr) Arrernte (Aranda) Strehlow (1944), Wilkins (1989), Yallop (1977) dialects: Anmatjirra (Anmatyerr), Aljawarra (Alyawarr), Ayerrerenge, Antekerrepenhe, Ikngerripenhe (Eastern Aranda), Mparntwe Arrernte (Central Aranda), Tyuretye Arrernte or Arrernte Alturlerenj (Western Aranda), Pertame(Southern Aranda), Alenjerntarrpe (Lower Aranda)
Wurm (1994) Pama-Nyungan Arandic   Alyawarra  
Walsh (1981) Pama-Nyungan Arandic Urtwa Alyawarra  
Oates (1975) Pama-Nyungan Arandic Urtwa Aljawara  
Wurm (1972) Pama-Nyungan Arandic Urtwa Alyawarra (Iliaura)  
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Pama-Nyungan Arandic Urtwa Iliaura