C7.1: Luritja

AIATSIS code: 
AIATSIS reference name: 


Thesaurus heading language
Thesaurus heading people
ABN name
ABS name
Horton name
Ethnologue name
ISO 639-3 code
Tindale name
Kukatja (NT) (Luritja)
Tindale (1974)
Aluratja (Iliaura term), Aluratji (Ngalia term), Aluridia (Pintubi and Pitjandjara term), Aluridja, Gogadja, Gugada, Gugadja, Juluridja, Kukacha, Kukadja, Kukata (in error), Loorudgee, Loorudgie, Loritcha, Loritja (Aranda term derogatory; sometimes collectively applied by them also to other despised western tribes), Lo-rit-ya, Luridja, Luritcha, Luritja, Lurritji, Ulur-itdja, Western Loritja (of C. Strehlow)
O'Grady et al (1966)
Other sources
Luritja, Pintupi Luritja, Jumu, Kukatja, Loritja, Matuntara, Ngalia, Aluratja, Aluratji, Aluridia, Aluridja, Lo rit ya, Loorudgee, Loorudgie, Loritcha, Loritya, Luridja, Luritcha, Lurritji, Maiulatara, Manggai, Mulatara, Nambulatji, Panara, Pardoo, Martuntara, Peedona, Peedong, Uluritdja, Wanaeka, Wangatjunga, Wangatunga, Wangkadjungga, Wangkatjunga, Wangkatunga, Wangu, Wankutjunga, Western Loritja, Gogadja, Gugada, Gugadja, Juluridja, Kukacha, Kukadja, Kukata, Ulur itdja, Luritj

Pintupi C10 and Luritja (C7.1) are two similar but overlapping dialects of the Western Desert language A80 (Hansen, 2011:vii). The dialects which make up the Western Desert language can be divided into western and eastern groups on the basis of grammatical features and vocabularies. Pintupi-Luritja combines some of the dialect features of the eastern and western groups and is influenced by close contact with Western Arrernte C47 and Warlpiri C15 (Heffernan and Heffernan, 1999:2-3).

The Central Land Council describes Pintupi speakers as coming from the Western Australian desert region around Kiwirrkura community,and that Pintupi Luritja speakers have had more contact with Hermannsburg, Papunya and Haasts Bluff.

Pintupi lived with Mayutjarra and other language groups at Haasts Bluff and later Pupanya in the early 20th century. The term Luritja C10 once referred to the Pintupi and Mayutjarra families who settled in those places in the 1930's. Pintupi referred to people at Pupunya who settled there between 1956-1962, and the children of people who moved to Haasts Bluff in this period call themselves Luritja (Hansen and Hansen, 1975:23). The language spoken by them is influenced by Mayutjarra and surrounding languages, and is called the Luritja dialect. Hansen and Hansen report that some people prefer the term Luritja, with connotations of higher social status (1975:23).

See also Kukatja C7.


  • Central Land Council <http://www.clc.org.au/articles/info/aboriginal-languages/>
  • Heffernan, John, and Kuyata Heffernan. 1996. A learner's guide to Pintupi-Luritja. Alice Springs: IAD Press.
  • Hansen KC & LE Hansen. 1975. The Core of Pintupi Grammar. Alice Springs: Institute for Aboriginal Development.
  • Hansen, Ken. 2011. Luritja Picture Dictionary. Alice Springs: IAD Press.
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

Heffernan (1996) distinguishes two groups of Luritja communities. The southern groups are those that speak with a strong Yankunytjatjara (C4) influence, and these, by and large, are made up of the communities south of Hermannsburg (including Jay Creek). The other group, Pintupi-Luritja, extends to the north-west and west of Hermannsburg.The major communities where Pintupi-Luritja is spoken are Haasts Bluff, Papunya, Mt Liebig and Kintore. (This roughly corresponds Tindale's location of Jumu (C11), which doesn't seem to be a language name.)

Handbook of Kimberley Languages (1988): 

Tjeraridjal (A7 ) in Handbook of Kimberley Languages (1988).

8.8 Pintupi / Bindubi

Names of the language and different spellings that have been used:
Bindubi (Capell, AIAS), Bindubu, Pintupi (Tindale), Pintupi (Hansen), Loritja, Luridja (AIAS), Luritja (Oates & Oates, AIAS, Hansen)
See Hansen & Hansen (1977) and (1978), and Heffernan (1984a) for the usage of the name Luritja. Apparently it is a name used generally by the Arrernte (Aranda) people of Central Australia for the Western Desert group. It has also been adopted by many different Western Desert groups who have taken up residence on Arrerntic land (Ian Green, pers.comm.). The term does not identify a specific dialect; for instance, Papunya Luritja is not the same dialect as Alice Springs Luritja. According to Ian Green (pers.comm.), "Papunya Luritja has developed from Eastern Pintupi, shows influence from Warlpiri and Arrernte, and shares some grammatical/morphological features with the southern Western Desert dialects Yankunytjatjarra and Pitjanytjatjarra rather than Pintupi. Eastern Pintupi was spoken in the Kintore-Ilypili region, and the Pintupi described by Hansen and Hansen was spoken in the area west of Kintore (see Hansen & Hansen 1977:21)." See also Yulparija, Wangkajunga, and Kukatja.The Yumu language is said to be closely related to Pintupi and to Kukatja, but there is very little information on it. Alternative spellings are: Jumu (Tindale, O'Grady, Elkin, Fry), Yumi (Roheim), Yumu (Cleland & Johnson, Wurm, AIAS).
Classification of the language:
Pama-Nyungan family, Western Desert group, Wati subgroup
Identification codes:
AIAS: C10 (Pintupi), C11 (Yumu)
Oates 1973: 56.9a (Pintupi), 56.9b (Yumu), 56.9c (Luritja)
Capell: C7 (Pintupi), C16 (Yumu)
Present number and distribution of speakers:
Some speakers are to be found in the Kimberley region, in Halls Creek and Balgo, but most live in the NT, principally at Papunya and outstations, Haast's Bluff, Mt. Liebig area, Kintore and outstations, Kiwirrkurra; also some at Areyonga, Yuendumu, Docker River, Nyirrpi, Hermannsburg, Glen Helen (particularly Luritja).
Milliken, 1972 - 613
Black, 1979 - 800
Green (pers.comm.), 1986 - about 1,000
People who have worked intensively on the language:
Ken Hansen, since 1960s, Papunya
John Heffernan, since early 1980s, Papunya
Ian Green, since 1984, Papunya
Practical orthography:
A practical orthography has been established, and used in the Papunya school; it was devised by Hansen and Hansen. This is the same system that is used in Pitjantjatjarra and Yankunytjatjarra, and similar to the Kukatja variant of the South Kimberley orthography (see page 6), except that underlining is used to indicate retroflexion, instead of an r before the letter.
Word lists:
Hansen & Hansen (1977), Heffernan (1984b)
Textual material:
Heffernan (1984a)
A Pintupi/Luritja text series is under way, under the supervision of a linguist with the Northern Terrtiory Education Department, Ian Green. The texts will be mainly edited classroom texts, but tapes and transcripts will also be available. The Papunya Literature Production Centre will publish the series.
Grammar or sketch grammar:
Hansen & Hansen (1978), Heffernan (1984a)
Material available on the language:
See also:
AIAS Selected reading list, Central and Western Desert: The Aranda, Bidjandjarra, Bindubi, Waljbiri. 17p. mimeo. AIAS. 197?
de Graaf, Mark. 1976. Pintupi bibliography. 10p. manuscript. Alice Springs.
Cleland, J.B. & Johnson, T.H. 1933. The ecology of the Aborigines of Central Australia. Royal Society of South Australia. Transactions 57. 113-124.
Ellis, C.J. 1984. Time consciousness of Aboriginal performers. In Kassler, J.C. & Stubington, J. (eds), Problems and solutions: occasional essays in musicology presented to Alice M. Moyle. Sydney: Hale and Iremonger. 149-185.
Hale, K.L. Ikirinytyi (mother-in-law language in Luritja). manuscript.
Hansen, K.C. 1985. Translating for the Pintupi. mimeo. 11pp. Darwin: Nungalinya College.
Hansen, K.C.& Hansen, L.E. 1969. Pintupi phonology. Oceanic Linguistics 8. 153-170.
_____ .1975. The sentence in Pintupi. (First draft, 1970, 58p. SIL; Part 2, Aug. 1971, 56p. SIL)
_____ .1975. Some suggestions for making the transition from Pintupi/Loritja reading to English reading. 12p. mimeo. typescript. SIL.
_____ .1977. Pintupi/Luritja Dictionary. Darwin: SIL. Second edition, Alice Springs: IAD.
_____ . 1978. The core of Pintubi grammar. Alice Springs: IAD.
_____ (with Tjampu Tjapaltjarri) 1980. Pintubi Kinship. 44pp. booklet. Second edition. Alice Springs: Institute for Aboriginal Development. (1st edition, 1974)
Heffernan, J. 1984a. Papunya Luritja language notes. Papunya: Papunya Literature Production Centre.
_____ .1984b. [Papunya Luritja word-list.] manuscript.
_____ .1984c. Dialect change amongst the Eastern Pintupi. In Australian Linguistics Society Conference Precirculation papers. Alice Springs: I.A.D. 5-16.
Huttar, G.L. 1976. Notes on Pintupi phonology. Talanya 3. 14-24.
Moyle, R.M. 1979. Songs of the Pintupi. Music in a central Australian society. Canberra: AIAS.
Murtonen, A. 1969. Pintupi statistical and comparative survey of an Australian Western Desert language. Department of Middle Eastern Studies, University of Melbourne. (Also cited as: Outline of a general theory of linguistics.)
Myers, F.R. 1976. "To have and to hold": a study of persistence and change in Pintupi social life. PhD thesis, Bryn Mawr. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms.
_____ .1982a. Always ask: resource use and land ownership among Pintupi Aborigines of the Australian Western Desert. In Williams, N. & Hunn, E.S. (eds), Resource managers: North American and Australian hunter-gatherers. Boulder: Westview Press for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 173-195.
_____ .1982b. Ideology and experience: the cultural basis of Pintupi life. In Howard, N.C. (ed.), Aboriginal power in Australian society. Brisbane: University of Queensland Press. 79-114.
_____ .1986. Pintupi country, Pintupi self: sentiment, place, and politics among the Western Desert Aborigines. Washington & London: Smithsonian Institution Press, and Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.
Roberts, M. 1975. Pintupi alphabet - adapted from the Warlpiri (constructed) by Ken Hale. 1p. mimeo. Yayayi.
Tindale, N.B. 1932. Journal of an expedition to Mt Leibig, Central Australia, to do anthropological research. Aug 1932. 374p. + suppl. notes. manuscript.
Language programme:
A bilingual education programme has been running for some years in the Papunya school.
Language learning material:
IAD Pintupi intensive course, 1976, 1977. Introduction 2p., Tape listening sheets 30p., Summary of contents of lessons 30p., Pintupi story material 12p., Contents of tape-recorded drill materials 117p.
Heffernan, J. 1984. Papunya Luritja language notes. Papunya: Papunya Literature Production Centre.
Literacy material:
Too many to mention here. The Papunya Literature Production Centre has already about 200 publications to its credit. A bilingual newsletter is also produced by the Centre. The following is a short selection of teaching material available.
Hansen, K.C. & L.E. 1974. Wangka walytja 1-4. [Our own talk]. NT Department of Education.
_____ .1974. Wakantjaku 1-4 [For the purpose of writing]. NT Department of Education.
_____ .1974. Teachers' guide to Pintupi primers. Sections 1,2. NT Department of Education.
Heysen, S. 1985. Piipa yini tampirrpa tjutatjarra wakalpayi. Nampa kutju. Papunya: Papunya Literature Production Centre.
Morris, K. 1985a. Rodeo. Papunya: Papunya Literature Production Centre.
_____ .1985b. Ula kutjarra yankupayi. (The boys who go hunting.) Papunya: Papunya Literature Production Centre.
_____ .1985c. Yara mulyatanku puluka mantjintja. (Stealing cattle.) Papunya: Papunya Literature Production Centre.
Phillipus, C. 1985. Tjukurrpa yanamarra, pintapintarringutja. (The tale of the caterpiller that became a butterfly.) Illustrated by H. Clarke. Papunya: Papunya Literature Production Centre.
Rrurrambu, G. 1985. Tjapirunya tjakipirrinya. (Jabiru and emu.) Papunya: Papunya Literature Production Centre.
Tjupurrula, P. 1985. Tjampitjinpa taraantarringu. (Early contact experiences near Mt. Leibig.) Translated by M. Roberts. Illustrated by D. Nelson. Papunya: Papunya Literature Production Centre.
There are also many religious materials, including a volume of translations from the Old Testament:
Bible, Old Testament. 1981. Katutjalu watjantja yirrititjanu. Adelaide: Lutheran Publishing House.

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

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

Ken Hansen, Angela Harrison, John Heffernan, Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association, Papunya Literature Production Centre
Indigenous organisations: 
Year Source Speaker numbers
1990Schmidtincl. with 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 Small (20-100 pages) 2
Grammar Small grammar (100-200 pages) 3
Audio-visual More than 10 3
Manuscript note: 
tape transcription/field note available

John Heffernan. 1996. A learner's guide to Pintupi-Luritja. Alice Springs: IAD Press.


Campbell, Maureen, Sultan, Trephina and Harrison, Angela. 2002. Draft Luritja wordlist (Southern dialects). Hansen, Ken, and Luritja and Pintupi speakers. 2011. Luritja picture dictionary. Alice Springs: IAD Press.

Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005) Pama-Nyungan South-West Wati Pintupi-Luritja  
Dixon (2002)       Luritja 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)          
Walsh (1981)          
Oates (1975)       Luridja  
Wurm (1972)          
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Pama-Nyungan Southwest Wati