A67: Yulparija

AIATSIS code: 
AIATSIS reference name: 


Thesaurus heading language
Thesaurus heading people
ABN name
ABS name
Horton name
Ethnologue name
Martu Wangka [Yulparitja]
ISO 639-3 code
Tindale name
Nangatara (Yulbaridja)
Tindale (1974)
Nangadjara, Njangadjara, Julbaritja (of Northern Njangamarda, means 'southerners'), Julbaritja (of Man-gala), Yulbari-dja, Julbaridja, Ilbaridja, Nanidjara (name seemingly derisive, applied by Wanman to Nangatara and by others to the Wanman), Nangi, Mangai, Mangi.
O'Grady et al (1966)
Other sources
Yulparija (McKelson n.d.), Yulbaridya, YulapaRitya, Yulbaradja, Yulbaridja, Yulbri, Yurlparija, Julbaridja, J&#252;lbre (Capell), Julbri, Yuria (Bates) [<ozbib>Wangka Maya PALC 2008:4$6424</ozbib>) Yulparirra [Dixon 2011:54]
Yulparitja, Martu Wangka, Julbaridja, Nangatara, Yurlparija, Julbarida, Julbre, Julbri, Yulaparitya, Yulbari dja, Yulbaridja, Yulbaridya, Yulbarija, Yulbri, Yurlbaridya, YulapaRitya, Yulbaradja, J&#252;lbre, Yuria, Yulparirra, Nangadjara, Njangadjara, Julbaritja, Ilbaridja, Nanidjara, Nangi, Mangai, Mangi

Yulparija is a Pama-Nyungan language in the Wati subgroup with a number of other Western Desert A80 languages, with whom Yulaprija people are easily conversant, whilst being able to identify a language with certain features that differe from Yulparija (Wangka Maya PALC 2008:5).

According to Black and Walsh (1989), Yulbaridya (= 'from the south') (A67) is a name used in the La Grange Mission area to refer to dialects of the Western Desert language A80 and the name has sometimes been thought to refer to a specific dialect, such as Tindale's Nangatara. However, Burridge (1996) treats it as a distinctive language. Petrie indicates that Yulparija is a "collective appellation for all strangers who have come in from the Warmala", which is a generic name for southern tribes in relation to northern tribes (in McKelson in Wangka Maya PALC 2008:3).



  • Burridge, Kate. 1996. Yulparija sketch grammar. In Studies in Kimberley languages in honour of Howard Coate, ed. W. McGregor, 15-69. München: Lincom Europa.
  • Capell, Arthur. 1963. Linguistic survey of Australia. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.
  • 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.
  • Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre. 2008. Yulparija sketch grammar. South Hedland, WA: Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre.
  • Dixon, Sally. 2011. How to read and write Pilbara languages. South Hedland: Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre.
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

Yulparija people originally came from the central Great Sandy Desert area to the south east of Bidyadanga Community on the western Kimberley coast of WA. Water holes and water locations were very significant to the Yulparija. Places names of significance include Kampaji, Kirriwirri, Lurnkurangu, Martakurlu, and Jarnawara. The main waterhole wirnpa is in the Percival Lakes area (Wangka Maya website June 2008). Yulparija country is located around the Percival Lakes area in the Western Desert of Western Australia. The current Yulparija speakers were born at waterholes called Kampaji, Kirriwirri, Lurnkurangu, Martakurlu, and Jarnawara. The main waterhole for Yulparija people is Wirnpa, which forms part of the Percival Lakes complex. (Wangka Maya PALC 2008:4).

Originally at 20 S and 127 E before they moved about thirty years ago to the coast between Wallal and Broome. (Burridge 1996).

West of Sturt Creek (Capell 1963 A19) Northwest of the Canning Stock Route, chiefly between Lake Wooloomber and Well 42, n.n. ['Kuljai]; northwestern boundary about halfway between Percival Lakes and Joanna Springs (Tindale 1974 for Nangatara).

Contemporary location: Bidyadanga, Punmu (Dixon 2011:54).


  • Tindale, Norman. 1974. Tribal boundaries in Aboriginal Australia. Canberra: Division of National Mapping, Department of National Development.
Handbook of Kimberley Languages (1988): 

Nugara (A5 ) in Handbook of Kimberley Languages (1988).

8.5 Yulparija / Yurlparija / Julbaridja

Names of the language and different spellings that have been used:
Julbaridja (Capell, AIAS, O'Grady), Julbarida (O'Grady), Julbre (Capell, Oates, O'Grady), Julbri, YulapaRitya (Oates), Yulbaradja (McKelson), Yulbaridja (AIAS), Yulbari-dja (Petri), Yulbaridya (McKelson), Yulbarija (Dixon), Yulbri, Yulparitja (Hansen), Yurlparija (KLS)
Oates (1973) distinguishes Julbre from YulapaRitya, claiming that the latter is a dialect close to Walmajarri.
According to Tindale (1974:245) the term Yulparija 'is not tribally limited, and is useless as a distinguishing label'.
Classification of the language:
Pama-Nyungan family, Western Desert subgroup
Identification codes:
Oates 1973: 56.2an, 56.2ao
Capell: A19
Present number and distribution of speakers:
Yulparija is today the dominant language of La Grange, where it is spoken by over 100 persons (McKelson, pers.comm.).
Thieberger (1987) - over 200
People who have worked intensively on the language:
Fr. Kevin McKelson, since 1950s, mainly in La Grange and Broome
Geoffrey O'Grady, 1950s, La Grange
Practical orthography:
South Kimberley orthography is in use in the language programme in the La Grange school; this was originally suggested by McKelson.
Word lists:
Burridge (nd), Capell (1940), McKelson (1968, 1978), O'Grady (1956, 1959, 1967a, 1968)
Textual material:
Catholic Church (nd), McKelson (1974)
Grammar or sketch grammar:
Burridge (nd), McKelson (1978). O'Grady (1959) contains some grammatical information.
Material available on the language:
Brown, M. 1979. Morphological reconstruction of proto-Western Desert. BA (Hons) thesis, ANU. AIAS Ms 1349. (A1;B3).
Burridge, K. nd. A sketch grammar of Yulbaridja. 37+x pp. typescript. (Not for quotation.) KLRC.
Capell, A. 1940. The classification of languages in north and north-west Australia. Oceania 10. 241-272, 404-433.
_____ .1972. The affix transferring languages of Australia. Linguistics 87. 5-36.
Catholic Church. nd. Liturgy and ritual. Our father, Hail Mary (adapted). 8pp. manuscript.
Geytenbeek, B.B. & Geytenbeek, H. 1980. Nyangumarda field notes, 1976-1979. 352pp. manuscript. AIAS Ms 1482. (A1;B5).
Hansen, K. 1984. Communicability of some Western Desert Communities. In Hudson, J. & Pym, N. (eds), Language survey. (Work Papers of SIL-AAB, B-11) Darwin: SIL. 1-112.
McKelson, K. 1968. [Letter to A.I.A.S.]. 1p. AIAS File T66/70.
_____ .(tr.) 1974. Catholic Church. Liturgy and ritual. Our Father, Hail Mary (adapted). 7pp. manuscript. AIAS
_____ .1978. Basic Yulbaridya. 15pp. typescript. AIAS pMs 2841. (A1;B5).
_____ .1981. Notes for staff on La Grange Mission: kinship. Nelen Yubu 7. 3-17.
_____ .1983. [Languages spoken at La Grange, Fitzroy Crossing, Broome, Port Hedland areas of Western Australia.] 5pts. typescript. AIAS Ms 1837.
O'Grady, G.N. 1956. A secret language of Western Australia - a note. Oceania 27. 158-159.
_____ .1957-1958. Material on suffixing languages of Western Australia. 237pp. typescript. AIAS Ms 320. (A1;B2).
_____. 1959. Significance of the circumcision boundary in Western Australia. BA (Hons) thesis, University of Sydney.
_____ .1967a. Nyamal and Yulbaridja. [Transcriptions of tapes.] 10[22]pp. manuscript. AIAS pMs 1353.
_____ .1967b. Nyangumarda, Ngarla, Nyamal, Warnman. Tape transcriptions. manuscript. AIAS pMs 1350.
_____ .1968. [Language material from Western Australia.] 364pp. manuscript. AIAS MS 321. (A1;B2).
O'Grady, G.N., Voegelin, C.F. & Voegelin, F.M. 1966. Languages of the world: Indo-Pacific fascicle 6. Anthropological Linguistics 8. 1-197.
Petri, H. 1966. Dynamik im Stammesleben Nordwest-Australiens. Paideuma 6. 152-168.
Roheim, G. 1945. The eternal ones of the dream: a psychoanalytic interpretation of Australian myth and ritual. New York: International Universities Press.
Thieberger, N. 1987. Handbook of WA Aboriginal languages (south of the Kimberley region). first draft. typescript. Mt. Lawley: Institute of Applied Aboriginal Studies.
Tsunoda, T. nd. Comments on K. McKelson's 'A comparative study of pronouns'. 8pp. typescript and manuscript. AIAS pMs 1882.
Language programme:
La Grange School has been running a language programme since 1985; Yurlparija is included as one of the languages taught.
Language learning material:
McKelson (1978, 1983)
Literacy material:
Bangu, J. nd. Ngayu Ngarna Yurta. La Grange: La Grange School.
McKelson, K. 1974. Catholic Church. Liturgy and ritual. Our Father, Hail Mary (adapted). 7pp. manuscript. AIAS

McGregor, William. 1988 Handbook of Kimberley Languages. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. © Author.

AIATSIS gratefully acknowledge William McGregor for permission to use his material in AUSTLANG.


Language classes taught at Bidyadanga School, where most Yulparija speakers live. (Wangka Maya PALC 2008:6)

Kate Burridge, Fr. Kevin McKelson, Geoff O'Grady, Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre, Sally Dixon
Year Source Speaker numbers
1990Schmidtincl. with Western Desert

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 Medium (100-200 pages) 3
Text Collection Less than 20 pages 1
Grammar Small grammar (100-200 pages) 3
Audio-visual 1-10 2
Manuscript note: 
tape transcription/field note available

McKelson, Fr Kevin R. Yulparija, ASEDA 0032.

Burgman, Albert. 2006. Yulparija: dictionary and topical finder lists. South Hedland, WA: Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre. Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre. 2007. Yulparija dictionary 2007. South Hedland, WA: Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre. (CD ROM)

Dixon, Sally. 2009. Yulparija : Yulparija dictionary English - Yulparija wordlist and topical wordlists. South Hedland, W.A. : Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre.

Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005) Pama-Nyungan South-West Wati Martu Wangka [Yulparitja] Martu Wangka [dialects: Manyjilyjara (Mantjiltjara), Kartujarra (Kartutjara, Kardutjara, Kadaddjara, Kardutjarra, Kiadjara, Gardudjara, Gagudjara), Puditara (Budidjara, Putujara), Yulparitja (Yilparitja, Yulbaridja), Wangkajunga (Wangkajungka). Mantjiltjara and Kartutjara are two ethnic groups speaking almost identical dialects. High inherent intelligibility between Yulparitja and Wangkajunga. Speakers of the 4 dialects can use the same written language with possible minor adjustments, including vocabulary change, partly needed because of cultural identity factors.]
Dixon (2002)       Yulparitja 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   Yulbaridja, Nangatara  
Walsh (1981) Pama-Nyungan South-West Wati/Western Desert Yulbaridja, Nangatara  
Oates (1975) Pama-Nyungan Western Desert Proper Wati Yulbaridja  
Wurm (1972) Pama-Nyungan Southwest (or Nyungic) Western Desert Language Julbre (Yulbaridja)  
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Pama-Nyungan Southwest Wati Julbre, Yulaparitya