C8: Arrernte

AIATSIS code: 
AIATSIS reference name: 


Thesaurus heading language
Thesaurus heading people
ABN name
Aranda language
ABS name
Horton name
Ethnologue name
Arrarnta, Western, Arrernte, Eastern
ISO 639-3 code
are, aer
Tindale name
Tindale (1974)
Aldolanga, Aldolinga (means easterners; a Kukatja name), Alitera (eastern dialect name), A'randa (valid alternative pronunciation), Aranta, Arinta (of Iliaura), Arranda, Arrinda, Arrundta, Arrunta, Arunda, Arunta, Arunta Ulpma, Herrinda, Ilpma, Jairunda (name as known by hearsay among Wirangu of south coast), Oiljpma (dialect name based on Ilpma name for Bond Springs), Paroola and Burrin-gah (based erroneously on Purula and Purunga two of the eight class terms of their social organization), Pitjapitja (Iliaura name also for Eastern Aranda), Pitjima (Iliaura name for Eastern Aranda), Ulpma, Urrundie, Ur-rundie, Waitjinga (horde of Southern Aranda at Macumba), Wonggaranda, Wongkatjeri (southerners east of lower Finke River), Wychinga
O'Grady et al (1966)
Pirdima (for Southern Aranda)
west2441 east2379
Other sources
Arrente [<ozbib>Broad 2008:172$6427</ozbib>] Arunta (<ozbib>Spencer & Gillen$5402</ozbib>), Arrarnte [<ozbib>Roennfeldt et al. 2005$4879</ozbib>]
Aranda, Ikngerripenhe, Eastern Aranda, Mparntwe Arrernte, Central Aranda, Tyuretye Arrernte, Arrernte Alturlerenj, Western Aranda, Pertame, Southern Aranda, Arrarnta, Western, Eastern, Aldolanga, Aldolinga, Alitera, Aranta, Arinta, Arranda, Arrinda, Arrundta, Arunda, Arrunta, Arunndta, Arunta, Arunta Ulpma, Burringah, Herrinda, Ilpma, Jairunda, Oiljpma, Paroola, Pirdima, Pitjapitja, Pitjima, Ulpma, Urrundie, Waitjinga, Wonggaranda, Wongkatjeri, Wychinga, Western Arrernte, Eastern Arrernte, Sourthern Aranda, Southern, Arrente, Burrin gah, Ur rundie

The classification of 'language - dialect - patrilect' for Arandic languages C48 in this database is challenging, due to multilingualism and the differing terminology (language, dialect, variety, patrilect) used by different researchers. The difference in world views between Arrernte and western categories of 'language' also come into play. Wilkins (in Henderson 2013:12) provides an overview of the Arandic language varieties C48 with two major sub-groups: Artwe (~Urtwe) composed of Upper Arrernte: (Eastern Arrernte, Western Arrernte C47, Alyawarr C14, Anmatyerr C8.1) and Lower Arrernte: (Lower South Arandic).

The name 'Eastern and Central Arrernte language' C8 is used by Broad (2008), Green (1994) and Henderson and Dobson (1994). Wilkins (in Henderson 1994:12) defines Eastern Arrernte as a language with dialects including Northern Arrernte, Mparntwe Arrernte, Ikngerre-ipenhe (Eastern), Antekerrepenhe C12 and Akarre C28. The Picture Dictionary (Broad, 2008) identifies some words as being specific to Eastern, Central, Northern, Southern, North Eastern and South Eastern areas of the Eastern and Central Arrernte region.

See also ARANDIC C48, Pertame C46; Lower Arrernte C29; Ayerrerenge G12; Antekerrepenhe C12 and Akarre C28. The other major subgroup is called Artweye, with one member Kaytetye C13.

Previously, both Austlang and the Thesaurus did not distinguish all Arandic varieties. Consequently there may be items in the AIATSIS collection indexed with the 'Arrernte language C8' heading which may relate more specifically to one of the varieties listed above, especially Western Arrarnta C47; this may also apply to Documentation Scores. The Speaker Numbers in this record also apply to Anmatjarra C8.1 and Alyawarra C14.


  • Breen, Gavan. 2001. The Wonders of Arandic phonology. In Simpson, Jane, David Nash, Mary Laughren, Peter Austin and Barry
  • Alpher eds. Forty years on: Ken Hale and Austalian languages: Pacific Linguistics 512. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  • Broad, Neil. 2008. Eastern and Central Arrernte picture dictionary. Alice Springs: IAD Press.
  • Dixon, R. M. W. 2002. Australian languages: their nature and development: Cambridge Language Surveys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Green, Jenny. 1994. A learner's guide to Eastern and Central Arrernte. Alice Springs: IAD Press.
  • Hale, Kenneth L. 1962. Internal relationships in Arandic of Central Australia. In Some linguistic types in Australia, ed. A. Capell, 171-185. Sydney: University of Sydney.
  • Henderson, John, and Veronica Dobson. 1994. Eastern and Central Arrernte to English dictionary. Alice Springs: IAD Press.
  • Henderson, John, and Veronica Dobson. 2021. Eastern and Central Arrernte to English dictionary. 2nd edition. Alice Springs: IAD Press.

  • Henderson, John. 2013. Topics in Eastern and Central Arrernte Grammar. Muenchen: LINCOM Europa.
  • Koch, Harold. 2001. Basic vocabulary of the Arandic languages: from classification to reconstruction. In Forty years on: Ken Hale and Australian languages, ed. Jane Simpson, et al., 71-87. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  • Koch, Harold. 2004. The Arandic subgroup of Australian languages. In Australian languages: classification and the comparative method, eds Claire Bowern and Harold Koch, 127-150. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Roennfeldt, David. 2006. Western Arrarnta picture dictionary. Alice Springs: IAD Press.
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

Main communities where Eastern and Central Arrernte are spoken are Alcoota (Alkwerte), Harts Range (Artetyerre), Bonya (Uthipe Atherre), Santa Teresa (Ltyentye Apurte), Amoonguna (Imengkwerne), and Alice Springs (Mparntwe) (Green 1994:2). The main communities where Eastern and Central Arrernte dialects are spoken are Alcoota, Harts Range (Artetyerre), Bonya (Uthipe Atherre), Santa Theresa (Ltyentye Apurte)), Amoonguna (Amengkwerne) and Alice Springs (Mparntwe) (Henderson & Dobson 1994). These languages are spoken mainly at Harts Range (Artetyere), Bonya (Uthipe Atherre), Santa Teresa (Ltyentye Apurte), Amoonguna (Imengkwerne) and Alice Springs (Mparntwe) (Central Lands Council, 2015).

  • Tindale, Norman. 1974. Tribal boundaries in Aboriginal Australia. Canberra: Division of National Mapping, Department of National Development.
  • Green, Jenny. 1994. A learner's guide to Eastern and Central Arrernte. Alice Springs: IAD Press.
  • Institute for Aboriginal Development. 2002. Central Australian Aboriginal languages: current distribution. Alice Springs: IAD Press.
Sourcebook for Central Australian Languages (1981): 

Kuwarra (A16 ) in Sourcebook for Central Australian Languages (1981).


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

Central: Aranda (Strehlow,T,Hale,AC,SAW,O'G,RLS,AIAS), Arran'da (R.H. Matthews), Arrenda (Chewings), Arrernte (practical orthography), Arunta (Spencer & Gillen), Atunndta [sic] (Basedow), Alice Springs Aranda (Hale)

The term "Aranda" is used by Santa Teresa residents, Hermannsburg residents, and others, to refer to their own language--thus the term does cannot be used to refer to one dialect.

Eastern: dialects: Plenty River Aranda (Hale) Akitjara, Akiytjara (Hale) Ingkerripenhe (IAD) (east of Santa Teresa)

Western: dialects: Hermannsburg Aranda (Hale) Henbury Aranda (Hale)

Southern: Pertam (Breen), Pitima (Hale), Pirdima (RLS)

The dialect situation is of the "mesh" type -- see Hale, 1961, 1962.

Classification of the language:

Pama-Nyungan Family, Arandic group, Urtwa subgroup

Identification codes:

Oates '73: 66.1c,e,f, 66.2

AIAS: C.008

Capell: C5

Present number and distribution of speakers:

Alice Springs, Hermannsburg, Santa Teresa, Papunya, Iwupataka, Jervois, Alcoota, etc.

Milliken, 1972 -- 2110

Black, 1979 --

People who have worked intensively on the language:

Pastor Albrecht, Pfitzner, Hermannsburg (Western);

Margaret Heffernan, Santa Teresa (Eastern);

IAD, SAL staff.

Ken Hale, MIT continues analysis of material.

Practical orthography:

There is an orthography established at Hermannsburg, in two versions: Strehlow (complex), Albrecht, Pfitzner (simplified). An experimental orthography with no diacritics has been produced

by IAD conferences, and being tested at Santa Teresa.

Word lists:

Strehlow, Hale (1962, n.d.), Albrecht & Pfitzner, IAD.

Grammar or sketch grammar:

Strehlow (1950), Kirke (1974), Pfitzner & Schmaal (1981).

Material available on the language:

See also:

AIAS Selected reading list, Central and Western Desert: The Aranda, Bidjandjarra, Bindubi, Waljbiri. 17p. mimeo. AIAS. 197?

Alice Springs High School, Class 421. 197?. An Alice Springs Dictionary. 23p. mimeo. Alice Springs High School.

AIAS. 197?. Selected reading list, central and western desert: the Aranda, Bidjandjadjarra, Bindubi, Waljbiri. 17p. mimeo. AIAS.

Basedow, Herbert. 1908. Vergleichende Vokabularien der Aluridja und Arunndta Dialekte. (p 5925, AIAS). (about 700 words)

Breen, J.G. Aranda field notes (mostly vocabulary, mostly not tape-recorded).

---------- Pertam (Southern Aranda) field notes (mainly vocabulary, not tape-recorded).

Chewings, Charles. n.d. Vocabulary of the Arrenda language and dialects. ms. S.A. Museum.

Cleland, J.B. & T.H. Johnson. 1933. The ecology of the Aborigines of Central Australia. Royal Society of South Australia. Transactions 57:113-124. tbls. (lists of plants with names in Aranda, Luritja, Pintubi, Ngalia, Yumu)

de Graaf, Mark. 1977. Aranta bibliography. 38p. Alice Springs.

Fitzherbert, J.A. n.d. Dictionary of Aranda language. ms. JAF(?)

Gillen, F.J. n.d. Vocabulary of Arunta language... (about 2000 words ?)

Hale, Kenneth L. 1959. Aranda field notes. mss.

---------- 1961. Toward a genetic classification of Australian languages. (Paper read at LSA meeting, 28 December). 7+3p. mimeo. (presents Arandic dialect chain)

---------- 1962. Internal relationships in Arandic of Central Australia, pp.171-83 in Some Linguistic Types in Australia. Oceania Linguistic Monograph 7, by A. Capell. Sydney: Oceania (The University of Sydney).

----------- n.d. Language and kinship in Australia. 8pp. mimeo.

----------- n.d. Arandic wordlist. Mimeo. M.I.T.

----------- 1966. Kinship reflections in syntax: some Australian languages. Word 22, 318-24.

Hercus, Luise A. 1979. In the margins of an Arabana-Wangganguru dictionary: the loss of initial consonants. Pacific Linguistics C.54:621-52 (Australian Linguistic Studies, ed. by S.A. Wurm.)

Institute for Aboriginal Development. 1979. Aranda-English English-Aranda Vocabulary. 55p. IAD. (prepared by staff at Santa Teresa and IAD)

Kempe, H. 1891. A grammar and vocabulary of language of Aborigines of MacDonnell Ranges. Transactions, Royal Society of S.A. ("fairly extensive")

Kirke, Brian. 197?. Skin names. 3p. mimeo. IAD. ---------- 1974. Summary of orthographies in Central Australia, April 1974. 1p. ms. IAD.

---------- 1974. Simple explanation of Aranda. mimeo. IAD.

---------- n.d. Anmatjira Aranda vocab, Aranda-Eng. and Eng.-Aranda, Anmatjira. 2 vol. mss.

Matthews, R.H. 1907. The Arranda language. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. (160 words)

Nekes, H. & E.A. Worms. 1953. Australian languages. Fribourg: Anthropos-Institut. Micro-Bibliotheca Anthropos vol.10. 1059p.

Pfitzner, John & Joan Schmaal. 1981. Learning Aranda. IAD. (originally produced by Finke River Mission, Alice Springs, 1976(?))

Reuther, J.G. Vocabulary of the Diari and related dialects. 13 notebooks, 18 bd. vols. (4 vols.; vols. of place names, myths, ethnography, etc.) ms. South Australian Museum. (cf. Ms 343)

Schebeck, Bernard. 1972. Les systemes phonologiques des langues australiennes.

Sharpe, Margaret C. 1979?. Towards a suitable orthography for all Aranda dialects. 7p. ts. & correspondence. Alice Springs.

Strehlow, Carl. 1907. Die Aranda und Loritja-Stamme. (translated into English by Charles chewings)

Strehlow, T.G.H. 1942. Aranda Phonetics. Oceania 12:225-302.

---------- 1943-44. Aranda Grammar. Oceania 13:71-103,177-200, 310-361, 14:68-90, 159-181,250-256.

---------- 1944. Aranda Phonetics and Grammar. Oceania Monograph No. 7. Sydney: Oceania (The University of Sydney). (reprinting of 1942-44 Oceania articles)

---------- (Aranda dictionary). (Reported by Wurm 1972:20 to be of 30,000 entries; a later report is 7,000). ms. Strehlow Research Foundation.

Tindale, N.B. 1932. Journal of an expedition to Mt Leibig, Central Australia, to do anthropological research. Aug 1932. 374p. + suppl. notes. ms. (Kukatja, Jumu, Ngalia, Anmatjera, Pintubi and Aranda)

Wafer, James. Arandic orthography questionnaire. 6p. mimeo. IAD.

---------- [Results of] Arandic orthography questionnaire. IAD.

---------- 1978. Notes on Some Recent Developments in Arandic Orthography. 30p. mimeo. IAD.

---------- 1979. Arandic orthography: supplement no. 1. April 1979. 7p. xeroxed ts. IAD.

---------- 1980. Arandic orthography: supplement no. 2. 10p. xeroxed ts. IAD.

Yallop, Colin L. 1978. Circular on Arandic spelling -- draft copy. 7p. xeroxed ms. and correspondnce. Macquarie University.

Literacy material:

Pfitzner, John. Hermannsburg.

Heffernan, Margaret & Sr. Robin. Santa Teresa.

Sharpe, Margaret. 1976. Primers for Traeger Park Primary School. (Ms 706, AIAS).

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

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


Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association made recordings in 80's. The Arrernte in Schools (AIS) program teaches Arrernte in primary and secondary schools throughout Alice Springs (IAD website 2007). Myfany Turpin is documenting ceremonial performances and describing the linguistic and musical features of the performances and the song interpretations under the project, Arandic Songs Project (2006 - 2008).

Gavan Breen, Veronica Dobson, Catherine Ellis, Jenny Green, Ken Hale, John Henderson, Luise Hercus, Carl Strehlow, David Wilkins,
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 Large grammar (more than 200 pages) 4
Audio-visual More than 10 3
Manuscript note: 
tape transcription/field note available

Green, Jenny. 2005. A learners guide to eastern and central Arrernte. Alice Springs: IAD Press.

Strehlow, T.G.H. 1944. Aranda phonetics and grammar: Oceania Monographs 7. Sydney: Australian National Research Council.

Wilkins, David. 1989. Mparntwe Arrernte (Aranda): studies in the structure and semantics of grammar, Australian National University: PhD.


Henderson, John & Veronica Dobson. 1994. Eastern and Central Arrernte to English dictionary. Alice Springs: IAD Press.

Henderson, John, and Veronica Dobson. 2021. Eastern and Central Arrernte to English dictionary. 2nd edition. Alice Springs: IAD Press.

Neil Broad (comp). 2008. Eastern and Central Arrernte Picture Dictionary. Alice Springs: IAD Press.

Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005) Pama-Nyungan Arandic   Arrarnta, Western, Arrernte, Eastern Arrarnta, Western [dialects: Western Aranda, Akerre (Akara), Southern Aranda. Close to Alyawarr and Gaidid] Arrernte, Eastern [dialects: Mparntwe Arrernte, Ikngerripenhe, Akarre, Antekerrepenh. Related to Mparntwe Arrernte, Alyawarr, Arrernte Akarre, Anmatyerre, Kaytetye, Western Arrarnta.] Walsh (1981) and Ruhlen (1987) treat Western Arrarnta and Eastern Arrernte as separate languages.
Dixon (2002)   ARANDIC AREAL GROUP   Arrernte (Aranda), Ikngerripenhe (Eastern Aranda), Mparntwe Arrernte (Central Aranda), Tyuretye Arrernte or Arrernte Alturlerenj (Western Aranda), Pertame (Southern Aranda) 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   Western Aranda, Eastern Arnada, Southern Aranda  
Walsh (1981) Pama-Nyungan Arandic Urtwa Southern, Western, and Eastern Aranda  
Oates (1975) Pama-Nyungan Arandic Urtwa Central Aranda  
Wurm (1972) Pama-Nyungan Arandic Urtwa Eastern Aranda, Western Aranda, Southern Aranda  
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Pama-Nyungan Arandic Urtwa Western Aranda, Eastern Aranda, Sourthern Aranda