C18: Warumungu

AIATSIS code: 
AIATSIS reference name: 


Thesaurus heading language
Thesaurus heading people
ABN name
Warumungu language
ABS name
Horton name
Ethnologue name
ISO 639-3 code
Tindale name
Tindale (1974)
Aira-manga (Kaititj pronunciation), Leenaranunga, Uriminga (Iliaura pronunciation), Waramunga, Warimunga, Warramonga, Warramunga, Warrmunga, Wurmega
O'Grady et al (1966)
Other sources
Waramanga, Waramungu, Waramanga; Airamanga, Leenaranunga, Uriminga, Waramunga, Warimunga, Warramonga, Warramunga, Warrumunga, Wurmega, Warumungu; Waramanga, Warramanga, Warumunga, Warumungu; Warramunga, Airamanga, Warrmunga, Aira manga

Wurumungu is a Pama Nyungan language from the Northern Territory. The classification of Warumungu is uncertain, however it is classified as 'Warumungu group' in various linguistic surveys. Warumungu shares vocabulary with neighbouring languages including Western Desert languages A80, also Warlpiri C15, Warlmanpa C17 and Kayteye C13 an Arandic language (Wafer, 1982).


  • Harvey, Mark. 2008. Non-Pama-Nyungan Languages: land-language associations at colonisation. AILEC 0802.
  • McGregor, William B. 2002. Verb classification in Australian languages. Mouton de Gruyter. Berlin
  • Nash David. 1980. A traditional land claim by the Warlmanpa, Warlpiri, Mudbura and Warumungu traditional owners. Alice Springs, NT : Central Land Council.
  • Simpson, Jane. 1991. Warlpiri morpho-syntax : a lexicalist approach. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  • Simpson, Jane. 2002. A Learners Guide to Warumungu : Mirlamirlajinjjiki Warumunguku apparrka. Alice Springs : IAD Press.
  • 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.
  • Wafer, James. 1982. Warumungu Picture Dictionary. Alice Springs : Institute for Aboriginal Development.
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

Warumungu speakers live at Tennant Creek, to the north and east at Elliott, Kurntulpara, Ngurrara, Wogayala and Alroy Downs and on several oustations such as Likkapartta and Pingala; and to the south at Alekarenge and Karlinjarangi (Simpson 2002:3). Eastward limit: Bonney Creek and Kurrundi Creek drainages were associated with Warumungu. Whistleduck Creek drainage was associated with Wakaya. Rockhampton Downs homestead was associated with Warumungu. No14 bore was the western limit of Wakaya affiliations. Northward limit: There is no precise information on the northward limit. It was extrapolated on the basis of the information on the eastward and westward limits. Westward limit: The Ashburton Range south from Mt Grayling, The Whittington Range, The Short Range. Kartijirarrakanya Claypan appears to have been associated with Warlmanpa. Warrego Mine and Kunayungku OS were associated with Warumungu. The western associations extended south to approximately the level of the Davenport Ranges. Southward limit: Bonney Creek drainage was associated with Warumungu. Drainages heading southwards from the Younghusband and Davenport Ranges were associated with Kaytetye (Harvey ASEDA 802). Mount Grayling (Renner Springs) in the north; south to headwaters of Gosse River; east to Alroy and Rockhampton Downs, western boundary on edge of sand plain about 50 miles (80 km.), west of Tennant Creek (Tindale 1974).

Sourcebook for Central Australian Languages (1981): 

NYANGUMARTA (A61 ) in Sourcebook for Central Australian Languages (1981).


Names of the language and different spellings that have been used:
Waramunga (AIAS, AC, RLS, Gillen), Waramanga (SAW), Warramunga (Lindsay, Spencer & Gillen, Heath), Warumunga (SAW), Warumungu (Hale, O'GV, Heath, Nash, Simpson) Warramunga is the spelling used by government and other organisations in Tennant Creek.
Classification of the language:
Pama-Nyungan Family., O'GV: Warumungic Group (sole member) RLS: Western Desert Type, Waramunggic Group (sole member)
Identification codes:
Oates '73: 62
AIAS: C.018
Capell: C26
Present number and distribution of speakers:
Tennant Creek, Warrabri, Banka Banka, Rockhampton Downs, Ngurratiji, Elliott, Alice Springs
Welfare Branch, Tennant Creek, 1966 - 253
Milliken, 1972 -- 468
Black, 1979 -- 463
Simpson, 1981 -- about 200
People who have worked intensively on the language:
Jane Simpson, M.I.T.
Practical orthography:
Simpson has devised a practical orthography, used in the first IAD primer.
Word lists:
Hale, 1966; Heath, 1977; Simpson, 1980.
Grammar or sketch grammar:
Simpson & Heath, in preparation.
Material available on the language:
Breen, J.G. Field notes. (brief).
Capell, A. 1953. Notes on the Waramunga language, Central Australia. Oceania 23.4,296-311.
Chakravarti, Prithrindra. 1967. A report on WaRumunu. [iii]+8p. mimeo. AIAS Doc 69/839.
----------- n.d. WaRumungu material. [Transcription of AIAS tapes A287ab, 288ab, 289a; recorded July 22 - December 25, 1966.] Unpublished typescript Field tapes 287a-301b. AIAS.
Gillen, F.J. 1894-98. Notes on some manners and customs of (Australian) Aborigines, 1894-98. Ms. folio notebooks. SU.
Hale, Kenneth L. 1959. Warumungu notes. [Material collected in Alice Springs.] Unpublished xxii + 79pp. ms.
----------- 1973a. Person marking in Walbiri, pp.308-344 in A Festschrift for Morris Halle, ed. by Stephen Anderson and Paul Kiparsky. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Inc.
----------- 1973b. Deep-surface canonical disparities in relation to analaysis and change: an Australian example, pp. 401-58 in Current Trends in Linguistics, Volume 11, ed. by Thomas Sebeok. The Hague: Mouton.
Heath, Jeffrey. 1977. Warramunga grammatical notes. Warramunga - English wordlist. Warramunga texts. Unpublished typescript Field tapes "65,66". Held at AIAS.
Linklater, William. 1946. The magic snake: being a group of stories for children concerning the habits, customs, beliefs, ceremonies, corroborees and legends of the Australian Aborigines. 95p. illus. col.pls. [includes a glossary] Sydney: Currawong Press.
---------- & L. Tapp. 1968. Gather no moss. 222p. pls. maps as endpapers. p.188-89 Melbourne: Macmillan. (Warramunga sentences)
Nash, David. 1978. Flora terms in the Warlpiri, Warlmanpa and Warumungu languages. 16p. typescript. AIAS.
---------- & Bunny Napurrula. 1978. Brief expressions of use to medical people in the Warumungu, Warlmanpa and Warlpiri languages as spoken at Tennant Creek, N.T. 3p. typescript. AIAS.
Oates, W.J. 1967. Syllable patterning and phonetically complex consonants in some Australian languages, p.29-52 in Papers in Australian Linguistics, No. 1. Pacific Linguistics Series A, No.
10. tbls. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
Simpson, Jane. 1979. Length alternations in Warumungu. Unpublished ts., M.I.T.
----------- 1980. Preliminary vocabulary of Warumungu. Unpublished ts., M.I.T.
Spencer, Baldwin & F.J. Gillen. 1904. The Northern Tribes of Central Australia. London: Macmillan & Co. Ltd. Reprinted 1969, Oosterhout, N.B., The Netherlands: Anthropological
Stanner, W.E.H. 1979. Report on field work in north central and northern Australia 1934-5. Microfiche No. 1. AIAS.
Wafer, James. 1978. Report on visit to Warrabri school, 3rd term, 1978. 3p. xerox typescript. IAD.
Literacy material:
Illustrated wordlist, preliminary edition. 124p. [January 1981]. IAD.

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

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

Adam Kendon, Jane Simpson, Papulu Apparr-Kari Language 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 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

Simpson, Jane. 2002. A learner's guide to Warumungu= Mirlamirlajinjjiki Warumunguku apparrka. Alice Springs: IAD Press.


Simpson, Jane. Preliminary Vocabulary of Warumungu, ASEDA 0055.

Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005) Pama-Nyungan Warumungic   Warumungu  
Dixon (2002)       Warumungu Warumungu Simpson and Heath (1982)
Wurm (1994) Pama-Nyungan Warumungic   Warumungu  
Walsh (1981) Pama-Nyungan Warumungic   Warumungu (Waramanga)  
Oates (1975) Pama-Nyungan Waramunggic Western Desert Waramunggic (Northern Central Australia) Waramunga  
Wurm (1972) Pama-Nyungan Waramungic   Waramungu (Waramanga, Warramanga)  
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Pama-Nyungan Warumungic   Warumungu