C3: Kokatha

AIATSIS code: 
AIATSIS reference name: 


Thesaurus heading language
Thesaurus heading people
ABN name
Gugada language
ABS name
Horton name
Ethnologue name
ISO 639-3 code
Tindale name
Kokata, Matuntara
Tindale (1974)
Cocotah, Cookutta, Geebera (eastern term), Gogada, Gugada, Kakarrura (as 'karkurera' means 'east'; applied apprently to horde west of Lake Torrens), Keibara (i.e. 'plain turkeys'-a derisive term), Kokatha, Kokatja (Jangkundjara pronunciation), Koocatho, Koogatho, Koogurda, Kookata, Kookatha, Kotit-ta, Ku:gurda wongga, Ku-gurda, Kukata, Kukataja, Kukatha, Madutara (An-takirinja term), Madu-wonga (Arabana also Jangkundjara term), Nganitjiddia, Nganitjidi, Nganitjini ('those who sneak and kill by night' a name applied by Nauo and Pangkala), Yallingarra (based on cardinal term 'alindjara' meaning 'east'; read the g as dj) for Kokata. Aluna (language term given them by the Pitjandjara), Madun-tara (Pitjandjara version with derogatory implications), Madutara, Maiuladjara, Maiulatara (Antakirinja and Jangkundjara terms applicable strictly to the Pitjandjara horde that formerly was absorbed by the Matuntara) for Matuntara.
O'Grady et al (1966)
Gugada, Kukatha, Kukata, Kokatha, Koogatho, Kugurda, Koogurda, Koocatho, Kokit-ta, Kukatja, Maduwonga, Madutara
Other sources
Kukatha, Kukarta, Kokata, Gugada, Cocotah, Cookutta, Geebera, Gogada, Gogoda, Gugadja, Kakarrura, Keibara, Kikataja, Kokatja, Kokit ta, Koocatho, Koogatho, Koogathoo, Koogurda, Kookata, Kookatha, Kotit ta, Ku:gurda wongga, Kugurda, Kukada, Kukata, Madutara, Maduwonga, Nganitjiddia, Nganitjidi, Nganitjini, Wanggamadu, Yallingarra, Kukatja, Matuntara, Ku gurda, Kukataja, Madu wonga, Yallingarra for Kokata, Aluna, Madun tara, Maiuladjara, Maiulatara for Matuntara
Kokatha (C3) belongs to the Western Desert language A80 family. Platt distinguishes two varieties Gugada and Gugadja, the latter he describes as being closer to Western Desert than Gugada, which 'probably' has greater affinity with Wirangu C1 (1972:1). Platt was corrected in his pronunciation of Gugadja, one speaker indicating 'very strongly that the penultimate phone was not alveolar by pushing his tongue between his teeth' (1972:3). In other words, the /dj/ phoneme is actually /dh/. However, some confusion arises because this is a distinction between palatal and dental, not alveolar /d/. Further research may clarify any distinction between 'Gugada' and 'Gugadja ~ Gugadha' but all forms remain listed under Kokatha (C3) in this database, a form used by the community. Not to be confused with other Western Desert varieties Kokatja A68 and Kokatja C7.
  • 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.
  • Platt, John T. 1968. An introductory grammar of the Gugada dialect, Monash University: MA. (MS 328:MS 327).
State / Territory: 
Location information: 
At Tarcoola, Kingoonyah, Pimba, and McDouall Peak; west to Ooldea and the Ooldea Range; north to Stuart Range and Lake Phillipson (Tindale 1974). It would seem that the area occupied by the Gugada people when first they came into contact with Europeans was the area centering on Mount Eba, extending to Kingoonya, Tarcoola, Coober Pedy and possibly as far as Ooldea. (As in Tindale, Capell, Wurm, Hale, and O'Grady maps) (Platt 1968:1).
Sourcebook for Central Australian Languages (1981): 

Mudalga (A27 ) in Sourcebook for Central Australian Languages (1981).


Names of the language and different spellings that have been used:
This language is quite distinct from the two separate languages with the name Kukatja. Gugada (AC, AIAS, Platt), Kokata (T, O'G, RLS, Berndt), Koogurda (DBates), Kokata east (Berndt), Kukata (AC), Baduwonga (Ba:du wongga) (DBates), Madu Wonga (Elkin), Matuntara (Madutara) (Herrmenn), Wanggamardu (Platt)
Classification of the language:
Western Desert proper, Wati subgroup.
Identification codes:
Oates '73: 56.8b
AIAS: C.003
Capell: C12
Present number and distribution of speakers:
Traditionally, south-east edge of Great Victoria Desert. Port Augusta, Coober Pedy, Kingoonya.
AIAS, 1972 -- 11
Black, 1979 -- nearly extinct
Walsh, 1981 -- a couple of speakers
People who have worked intensively on the language:
Practical orthography:
Word lists:
Black, Tindale, Platt, Oates & Healey.
Grammar or sketch grammar:
Platt, 1972.
Material available on the language:
Bates, Daisy M. 1931. (Letter to) Professor Fitzherbert. Ooldea, August 12, 1931. 25p. ms. (ANL-MS365-87/47-96) (vocabulary of Kugurda, Ngallia and others) Bedford, R. Notes on blackfellow tribes and languages of Eyre's Peninsula. 15p. ts. S.A. Museum A.D.10. (vocabulary of Kukatha,
Parnkalla, etc.)
Black, J.M. 1920. Vocabularies of four South Australian languages: Adelaide, Narrunga, Kukata and Narrinyeri. Royal Society of South Australia. Transactions 44:76-93. (52 words of Kukata)
Layton, Robert. 1977. Field notes: Gugada. [Kingoonya, S.A.] 50p. ms. (Ms 595(4), AIAS) (vocabulary and phrases, including kin terms)
Oates, W.J. & A. Healey. 1966. Kukata. 2p. ts. Barnawatha, Vic. (vocabulary of about 90 words)
O'Grady, G.N. Material on suffixing languages of W.A. (Ms 320, AIAS)
---------- & T.J. Klokeid. 1969. Australian Linguistic Classification: A Plea for Coordination of Effort. Oceania 39:298-311. (comparative list of 100 words, Kukata-Kukatja-Wirangu)
Platt, J.T. 1967. The Kukata-Kukatja distinction. Oceania 8.1:61-64.
---------- 1968. Some features of the verb in Kukata. Anthropological Linguistics 10.5:1-17. (differences between Kukata and Kukatja)
---------- 1970. Some notes on Gugada and Wirangu, pp.59-64 in Trends in Australian Linguistics. Australian Aboriginal Studies No. 23, ed. by D. Laycock. AIAS.
---------- 1972. An outline grammar of Gugada dialect of South Australia. Australian Aboriginal Studies, no.48. Linguistics series no.20. viii+68p. diags. tbls. AIAS.
Tindale, Norman B. 1928. Field notes and journal on an anthropological expedition to Koonibba on the west coast of South Australia. Aug. 1928. c100p. unbound ms. (vocabularies of Wirangu (300 words) and Kokata)
Walsh, Michael. 1977. Field notes: Gugada. [Kingoonya, S.A.] 108p. ms. (Ms 888, 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.

Luise Hercus, John Talbot Platt, Geoffrey O'Grady
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 Less than 20 pages 1
Text Collection None 0
Grammar Small grammar (100-200 pages) 3
Audio-visual More than 10 3
Manuscript note: 
tape transcription/field note available

Platt, John. 1968. An introductory grammar of the Gugada dialect, Monash University: MA.

Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005) Pama-Nyungan South-West Wati Kokata
Dixon (2002) Kukarta The Western Desert language. dialects: (a) Warnman, (b) Yulparitja, (c) Manjtjiltjara (or Martu Wangka), (d) Kartutjarra, (e) Kukatja, (f) Pintupi, (g) Luritja, (h) Ngaatjatjarr, (i) Ngaanjatjarra, G) Wangkatha, (k) Wangatja, (l) Ngaliya, (m) Pitjantjatjarra, (n) Yankuntjatjarra, (o) Kukarta
Wurm (1994) Pama-Nyungan South-West Gugada
Walsh (1981) Pama-Nyungan South-West Wati/Western Desert Gugada
Oates (1975) Pama-Nyungan Western Desert Proper Wati Gugada
Wurm (1972)
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Pama-Nyungan Southwest Wati Kokata