L10: Adnyamathanha

AIATSIS code: 
AIATSIS reference name: 


Thesaurus heading language
Thesaurus heading people
ABN name
Adnyamathanha language
ABS name
Horton name
Ethnologue name
ISO 639-3 code
Tindale name
Wailpi (Adnjamatana)
Tindale (1974)
Wajalpi, Wailbi (among the Pangkala this term means south west), Wipie, Nuralda, Binbarnja (Wadikali term, ['binba] = Callitris 'pine tree'), Kanjamata (Wongkanguru term), Kanjimata, Anjimatana ('Hills people,' Kujani term), Benbakanjamata (Kujani term 'Pine Hills people' in reference to the Callitris pines, ['pimba] = ['benba], on the dissected plateaus), Anjiwatana (misprint), Anjamutina, Andyamatana, Unyamatana, Unyamootha, Anyamatana, Adnjamatana, Adnjamadana, Adjnjamatana, Adyamatana, Kudnamietha (['kudna = feces] hence dung eaters a rude name given by western tribes), Keidnamutha, Gadjnjamadja [sic], Kutchnamootha, Keydnjamarda, Mardala (Dieri term based on the Wailpi word ['ma:dala] = no), Mardula, Umbertana (error for Umberatana, a place name), Nimbalda, Nimbaldi (misprint), Nimalda, Wadla (literally 'Scrub wallabies,' a derisive term applied by the Dieri and other inhabitants of the open plains of the Lake Eyre basin), Ngatjuwalda ('our speech,' language name), Atjualda (same recorded by an individual tone deaf to initial ng), Archualda.
O'Grady et al (1966)
Adnyamathana, Nuralda, Binbarnja, Kanjimata, Anjimatana, Benbakanjamata, Anjiwatana, Anjamutina, Anyamatana, Unyamootha, Kudnamietha, Kutchnamoota, Keydnjamarda, Mardala, Mardula, Wipie, Umbertana, Nimbalda, Nimbaldi, Nimalda
Other sources
Adnymathanha, Adjnjamathanha, Adynyamathanha, Adnjamathanha, Jadliaura, Ngudlawara, Wailpi, Walypi, Adnamadana, Adjnjamatana, Adnamatana, Adnjamadana, Adnjamadhanha, Adnjamatana, Adnjamathera, Adnjmadhanha, Adnjnjamathanha, Adyamatana, Andjama Dana, Andyamatana, Anjamatana, Anjamutina, Anjimatana, Anjiwatana, Anjiwatina, Anyamatana, Archualda, Atjualda, Benbakanjamata, Benbakanjamatana, Binbarnja, Binbarnya, Gadjnjamada, Gadjnjamadja, Ganjamadna, Imatjara, Kanjamata, Kanjimata, Keidnamutha, Keydnjamarda, Keydnjmarda, Kudjamuther, Kudjchnamootha, Kudnamietha, Kutchhamootha, Kutchnamoota, Kutchnamootha, Mardala, Mardula, Ngatjuwalda, Nimalda, Nimbalda, Nimbaldi, Nuralda, Umbertana, Unyamatana, Unyamootha, Wadla, Wailbi, Wajalpi, Waljbi, Wipie, Adnyamathana, Adnjamadana Wailbi, Adnyamatana, Atʸnʸamat̪an̪a

Adnyamathana is a member of the Thura-Yura L63 sub-group of Pama-Nyungan. Other members include  Ngadjuri L5Nukunu L4; Narangga L1; Barngala L6Kuyani L9Nauo L2; Kaurna L3 and Wirangu C1, which exhibits some differences with the Thura-Yura languages. One particular cultural-linguistic feature uniquely Thura-Yura is the use of ten birth-order names. Another are the regular pronoun forms unique to the sub-group (Simpson & Hercus 2004:179).

The map in Oates and Oates (1970) has both L17.1 Adnjamatana and L10 Wailbi but these were merged into L10 Adnjamatana in Oates (1975). As L10 has been used for Adnyamathanha for some time, a new code, L55, has been applied to Wailpi.


  • Brandenstein, Carl G. von. 1970. Report [to A.I.A.S.] on field work conducted July/August 1970 as part of the 1969/1970 project Western Desert fringe study. (PMS 2140).
  • Cother, Emma and Gale, Mary-Anne 2005. Resource guide for the Indigenous languages of South Australia. Part A. Introduction & helpful information. [Adelaide : Discipline of Linguistics, University of Adelaide].
  • Hercus, Luise Anna. 1992. A Nukunu dictionary. Canberra: Department of Linguistics, The Faculties, Australian National University.
  • Oates, Lynette F. 1975. The 1973 supplement to a revised linguistic survey of Australia. Armidale: Armidale Christian Book Centre.
  • Oates, William J., and Lynette F. Oates. 1970. A revised linguistic survey of Australia: Australian Aboriginal Studies 33, Linguistic Series 12. Canberra: AIAS.
  • Simpson, J & L Hercus. 2004. Thura-Yura as a subgroup, in (Bowern & Koch eds) Australian Languages : classification and the comparative method. Amsterdam/Philadelphia : John Benjamins.

  • 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: 

At Umberatana and Mount Serle; south to Parachilna Gorge only in the Flinders Ranges; east to above Wooltana on range; west to western scarp of ranges (Tindale 1974). Contemporary location: the Flinders Ranges, the towns of Nepabunna,Hawker, Quorn, Port Augusta and Leigh Creek (Cother and Gale 2005:1).

Sourcebook for Central Australian Languages (1981): 

Ngurlu (A10 ) in Sourcebook for Central Australian Languages (1981).


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

Adn'amatana (Schebeck), Adnjamadana (AIAS), Adnyamatana (SAW), Adnjamathanha (Schebeck), Andjamat_ana (Schebeck), Anjamatana (C, Mountford), Atnyamathanha, Umbertana (C: place name)

Related languages: Wailpi, Yandali (closely related -- Breen)

Classification of the language:

Southern Western Desert Type, Yura subgroup

Identification codes:

Oates '73: 64

AIAS: L10,17.1

Capell: L43

Present number and distribution of speakers:

Perhaps 20-30 good speakers. Traditionally, on western slopes of northern Flinders Ranges, S.A. Black, 1979 --

People who have worked intensively on the language:


Practical orthography:

None established.

Word lists:

H. Hale & N. Tindale, G.N. O'Grady, Schebeck, McEntee, Austin.

Grammar or sketch grammar:

Schebeck, 1974.

Material available on the language:

Austin, Peter. 1977. A dictionary of the Adnyamathana language. 10p. ms. Adelaide. (pMs 216, AIAS). (prepared for Adnyamathana literacy project).

----------, R. Ellis & Luise A. Hercus. 1976. 'Fruit of the Eyes': semantic diffusion in the Lakes Languages of South Australia. Pacific Linguistics A.47:57-77 (Papers in Australian Linguistics, 10)

Breen, J.G. 1967. Atnyamathanha field notes. (1 hour tape-recording). 13p. (pMs 244, AIAS)

---------- Yandali field notes. (some)

Hale, Herbert M. & Norman B. Tindale. 1924(?). Observations on Aborigines of the Flinders Ranges, and records of rock carvings and paintings. Adelaide: Records of the S.A. Museum


Hercus, L.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.)

---------- & I.M. White. 1973. Perception of kinship structure reflected in the Adnjamathanha pronouns. (Papers in Australian Linguistics, No. 6.) Pacific Linguistics A.36:47-72.

McEntee, J.E. 1976. Pronunciation guide to the Adnamatana language. (Erudina Station). ms. i+30p. illus. (p 6282, AIAS)

O'Grady, G.N. 1967. Adnyamathanha ~ Wailpi. (vocabulary list by domains, several hundred items) ms.

Schebeck, B. 1972. Les systemes phonologiques des langues australiennes. (dissertation?) Paris.

---------- 1973. The Adnjamathanha personal pronoun and the Wailpi kinship system. (Papers in Australian Linguistics, No. 6) Pacific Linguistics A.36:1-45.

---------- 1974. Texts on the social system of the Atynyamathanha people, with grammatical notes. Pacific Linguistics D.21. xiii+278p.

---------- 1976. Transitivity, ergativity and voice in Atjnjamathanha, pp.534-544,549-550 in Grammatical Categories in Australian Languages, ed. by R.M.W. Dixon. AIAS.

Literacy material:

Possibly some.

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

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


Education Dept. of South Australia developed a teacher's guide (1988). Dept. of Education and Children's Services developed a teaching framework in 2004 and a language learning material, Learning Adnyamathanha in 2005

Peter Austin, Gavan Breen, Luise Hercus, John McEntee, Pearl McKenzie, Geoffrey O'Grady, Bernhard Schebeck, Dorothy Tunbridge, Hale & 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 Medium (100-200 pages) 3
Text Collection Large (more than 200 pages) 4
Grammar Sketch grammar (less than 100 pages) 2
Audio-visual More than 10 3
Manuscript note: 
tape transcription/field note available

Schebeck, Bernard. 1974. Texts on the social system of the Atynyamatana people with grammatical notes: Pacific Linguistics D21. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.


McEntee, John and McKenzie, Pearl. 1991. Adna-mat-na English dictionary, ms.

Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005) Pama-Nyungan South-West Yura Adynyamathanha Adynyamathanha [dialects: Related to Guyani, Banggarla, Nugunu, and Narungga, which may be extinct.]
Dixon (2002)   SPENCER GULF BASIN AREAL GROUP Yura subgroup* Adjnjamathanha Adjnjamathanha/Guyani Schebeck (1974) further dialect: Wailpi
Wurm (1994) Pama-Nyungan South-West   Adynyamathanha  
Walsh (1981) Pama-Nyungan South-West Yura Adynyamathanha  
Oates (1975) Pama-Nyungan Southern Western Desert Type Yura Adnjamadana-Wailbi  
Wurm (1972) Pama-Nyungan Southwest (or Nyungic) Yura Wailpi, Adnyamatana  
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Pama-Nyungan Southwest Yura Wailpi