Pitjantjatjara Academic Article uri icon


  • Pitjantjatjara is a dialect of the Western Desert Language (WDL) of central Australia (Douglas 1958). The Western Desert Language is a member of the south-west Pama-Nyungan group. Together with Warnman, it forms the Wati sub-group. It is spoken by 4000–5000 people, and covers the widest geographical area of any language in Australia, stretching from Woomera in central northern South Australia, as far west as Kalgoorlie and Meekatharra and north to Balgo Hills, in Western Australia. The main dialects, which differ most in regards the lexicon but also to some extent in grammar and phonology, include Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, Ngaanyatjarra, Ngaatjatjarra, Southern Luritja, Pintupi-Luritja, Kukatja, Gugarda, Ngalia, Wangkatja, Wangkatha, Manyjilyjarra, Kartutjarra and Yurlparija. It is perhaps more accurately conceived of as a dialect chain, whereby a dialect such as Pitjantjatjara is mutually intelligible with its neighbours Ngaanyatjatjarra and Yankunytjatjara, but not with dialects more distant than these, such as Kukatja and Manyjilyjarra.

publication date

  • August 2014