A38: Ngaanyatjarra

AIATSIS code: 
AIATSIS reference name: 


Thesaurus heading language
Thesaurus heading people
ABN name
Ngaanyatjarra language
ABS name
Horton name
Ethnologue name
ISO 639-3 code
Tindale name
Ngadadjara (Nganadjara)
Tindale (1974)
Jabungadja ('mountain Ngadja' i.e. Ngadadjara of Rawlinson Ranges), Ku:rara (name given by Pitjandjara to people of Rawlinson Ranges), Nadadjara, Nga:da (short form of name), Nga:dapitjardi (name applied by western people to hordes near Blackstone Ranges), Ngad-adara, Ngadatara (Pitjandjara term), Ngadatjara, Ngadawongga, Ngadjatara, Nganadjara (name used by Warburton Range hordes for those northeast toward the Rawlinson Ranges also shortened to Ngan:a), Ngatatara (misprint), Ngatatjara, Rumudjara, Teitudjara (name used by Nan:a to west), Wan:udjara (eastern Ngadadjara name for their northern hordes at Giles ['Julia] in the Rawlinson Ranges), Warara (name used for the northeastern hordes), Wirtjandja (alternative name), Witjandja (name of the people of the Warburton Range horde)
O'Grady et al (1966)
Other sources
Ngaanjatjarra, Nana, I:nabadanggural, Jumudjara, Kalgonei, Kalgoneidjara, Kalguni, Kuwaratjara, Nangandjara, Nangaridjara, Ngaanjadjara, Ngan:adjara, Ngana, Nganadjara, Ngatari, Nona, Warburton Ranges, Ngadadjara, Ngaanyatjara, Warburton Ranges Dialect, Jabungadja, Ku:rara, Nadadjara, Nga:da, Nga:dapitjardi, Ngad adara, Ngadatara, Ngadatjara, Ngadawongga, Ngadjatara, Ngatatara, Ngatatjara, Rumudjara, Teitudjara, Wan:udjara, Warara, Wirtjandja, Witjandja

Ngaanyatjarra is a Pama-Nyungan language, in the Western Desert language A80 group. Speakers consider it a separate language (from Western Desert) with only 70% shared vocabulary with Pitjantjatjara although it is very close to Ngaatjatjara A43. The language names Ngaanyatjarra and Ngaatjatjara illustrate the difference between the two in the demonstrative 'this, here': ngaanya and ngaatja, both followed by the 'with' or 'having' suffix  -tjarra. (Glass & Hackett 2003:3). 

Tindale lists Nganadjara (A38) as an alternative name of Ngadadjara A43 and says the name is used by Warburton Range groups to refer to those north-east toward the Rawlinson Ranges (1974).


  • Glass, Amee, Dorothy Hackett. 2003. Ngaanyatjarra-Ngaatjatjarra to English dictionary. 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.
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

Before the establishment of the Warburton Mission, Ngaanyatjarra was spoken in the region of Warburton and possibly as far east as the Jameson Range. Ngaatjatjarra [A43] was spoken in the Jameson and Blackstone ranges area, and as far as the Rawlinson Ranges to the north and to Lake Hopkins in the north-east. Pitjantjatjara [C6] was spoken at Wingellina in the Tomkinson Ranges, and in areas to the east and north-east. Ngaanyatjarra speakers have migrated to Cosmo Newbery and Laverton in the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia (Glass & Hackett, 2003:1).

At Warburton Ranges, east to Fort Welcome, Blackstone Ranges, Murray Range, and Mount Hinckley; their southeasternmost water being Ero:tjo, just south of Wangalina; northeastward to Kudjuntari in the Schwerin Mural Crescent Range; at ['Julia] (Giles) in the Rawlinson Ranges. North to Hopkins Lake and Carnegie Range and beyond Christopher Lake; west to Tekateka and Jalara and about Alfred Marie Ranges (Tindale 1974 for Ngadadjara).


Sourcebook for Central Australian Languages (1981): 

Mandjindja (A33 ) in Sourcebook for Central Australian Languages (1981).


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

Kuwaratjara (used by Pintupi), Ngaanyadjara (AIAS), Ngaanyatjara (Glass & Hackett), Ngaanyatjarra (Glass), Nga:nyatjara (Douglas, Glass & Hackett), Yungaratjara (Douglas)

Classification of the language:

Western Desert Group, Wati Subgroup

Identification codes:

Oates '73: 56.4a



Present number and distribution of speakers:

Warburton Ranges, W.A. (Glass & Hackett)

Millen, 1972 --

Black, 1979 -- 300-400

People who have worked intensively on the language:

Amee Glass, Warburton

Dorothy Hackett, Warburton

Practical orthography:

Yes; Glass & Hackett, Warburton (basic orthography change, 1973)

Word lists:

Glass (1975), Douglas (1977)

Grammar or sketch grammar:

Glass & Hackett (1970)

Material available on the language:

Berndt, Ronald M. & Catherine H. (eds.) 1979. Aborigines of the West: Their Past and Their Present. W.A. Government sesquicentenary celebrations series. xxvii+516p. Perth: U.W.A.

Press, for the Education Committee of the 150th Anniversary Celebrations.

Douglas, W.H. 1964. An Introduction to the Western Desert Language. Oceania Linguistic Monographs No. 4. (Revised). [1st edition, 1958] Sydney: Oceania (University of Sydney).

---------- 1977. An illustrated topical dictionary of the Western Desert language, Warburton Ranges dialect. 27p. AIAS.

---------- 1979. Communication: Aboriginal languages--an overview. Berndt & Berndt, 1979:39-53.

---------- 1979. The desert experience: language. Berndt & Berndt, 1979:108-118. (includes text)

Glass, Amee. 1969. A problem in Ngaanyatjara primer construction. Notes on Literacy 7(October).

---------- 1975. Ngaanyatjarra word list. vi+58p. 25cm Kalgoorlie, W.A.: U.A.M. (900 words; brief grammatical notes)

---------- 1978. Into another world: a glimpse of the culture of the Warburton people. 55p., ill. 21cm. IAD.

---------- 1979. The sentence: boundaries and basic types in Ngaanyatjarra narratives, in Work Papers of SIL-AAB A.3, ed. by Christine A. Kilham. 23p. SIL. [1st draft, Aug.1971. U.A.M.

Language dept. 27p. A tentative description on Ngaanyatjara discourse and paragraph.]

---------- 1980. Cohesion in Ngaanyatjarra discourse. M.A. thesis, ANU.

---------- & D. Hackett. 1970. Pitjantjatjara grammar: a tagmemic view of the Ngaanyatjara Warburton Ranges) dialect. 118p. Australian Aboriginal Studies, 34. AIAS.

---------- & ---------- 1979a. Ngaanyatjarra texts. 144p. n.s.16. AIAS. [Revised edition of: Pitjantjatjara texts. Australian Aboriginal Studies, 19. Linguistic Series, 7. 1969. 118p. AIAS.]

---------- & ---------- 1979b. Medical phrases from three Western Desert languages. (Ngaanyatjarra, Wangkatja, Pitjanytjatjarra). 59p. Perth: Human Sciences Research.

---------- & Dorothy Newberry (eds.) 1979. Tjuma: Stories from the Western Desert. 56p. Sydney: Aboriginal Arts Board.

Hansen, Kenneth C. & Lesley E. Hansen. 1975. A comparison of Western Desert dialects. Chart 2, pp.28-29 in their Core of Pintupi Grammar. IAD. [5 forms incorrect -- A. Glass]

Kirke, Brian K. 197?. Pronunciation of central Australian languages. 8p. mimeo ts. IAD.

O'Grady, Geoffrey N. 1957. Materials on suffixing languages of Western Australia. p.1-116,125,261,263-275: xerox handwritten. University of Sydney.

---------- & T.J. Klokeid. 1969. Australian Linguistic Classification: A Plea for Coordination of Effort. Oceania 39:298-311.

Literacy material:

Glass & Hackett, Warburton. (school bilingual programme, adult literacy, Bible translation)

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

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


Ngaanyatjarra Bible Project has been making recordings and language materials and also translated the Bible. Ngaanyatjarra Language Centre (which has ceased to exist) made recordings and language materials in 2000 and 2001.

Mark de Graaf (note that his items in MURA are identified as Ngaatjatjara (A43) but it should be Ngaanyatjarra). Amee Glass & Dorothy Hackett (Ngaanyatjarra Bible Project), Kazuko Obata
Indigenous organisations: 

Ngaanyatjarra Council http://www.ngaanyatjarra.org.au/

Year Source Speaker numbers
1990Schmidtincl. in Western Desert A80

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 Large (more than 200 pages) 4
Grammar Small grammar (100-200 pages) 3
Audio-visual 1-10 2
Manuscript note: 
not available

Glass, Amee. 1970. Pitjantjatjara grammar: a tagmemic view of the Ngaanyatjara (Warburton Ranges) dialect. Canberra: AIAS.

Glass, Amee. (2006). Ngaanyatjarra learner's guide. Alice Springs: IAD Press.


Glass, Amee, Dorothy Hackett. 2019. Ngaanyatjarra-Ngaatjatjarra to English dictionary. 2nd edition. Alice Springs: IAD Press.

Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005) Pama-Nyungan South-West Wati Ngaanyatjarra  
Dixon (2002)       Ngaanjatjarra 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   Ngaanyatjara  
Walsh (1981) Pama-Nyungan South-West Wati/Western Desert Ngaanyatjara  
Oates (1975) Pama-Nyungan Western Desert Proper Wati Ngaanjadjara  
Wurm (1972) Pama-Nyungan Southwest (or Nyungic) Western Desert Language Ngaanyatjarra, Warburton Ranges Dialect  
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Pama-Nyungan Southwest Wati Warburton Ranges