Ngadju

Ngadju Location

Ngadjumaya is a language of the Goldfields region of Western Australia. There are very few speakers and these people are now spread from the Kalgoorlie region through to Esperance. Ngadju is centred around Norseman and east toward Balladonia.

Ngadju Names (Ngatjumaya/Ngadjumaya)

Some people may call the language Karlaaku or Ngajunka, and Ngajunkarra also appear to be an accepted version. Ngajumaya is a Pama-Nyungan language and appears to be of the Wati group of languages.

The AIATSIS code for Ngadju is A3. The AUSTLANG database comment:

 maps Ngatjunmaya and Ngatjumay as separate languages but they probably refer to the same language, Ngatjumaya.  uses the term ‘Ngadju’ to refer to a ‘mixed’ language consisting of formerly separate dialects: Mirningj , Marlba – which seems to be his equivalent of Tindale’s Ngadjunmaia (A3)- Fraser Range , and Kallaargu . Ngatjumay in  appears to be the equivalent of von Brandenstein’s Ngadju. Sue Hanson () mentions an unpublished sketch grammar written by Steven Roberts.

State of the Language

The language is highly endangered, most existing speakers have little grammatical ability but significant lexical knowledge. Ngdaju is poorly documented and the grammatical analysis is sketchy at best. Immediate fieldwork will assist in the recovery and documentation of existing material and may stimulate speakers to remember and potentially revive the language.

Much material was recorded and documented by von Brandenstein (1980) and further research was carried out on the language by Doug Marmoin (2008). Wordlists were also collected by Norman Tindale, O’Grady (1957), Douglas (1968 and 1976) and Daisy Bates. Steven Roberts carried out a sketch grammar of the language in an undated essay (mid 1990’s?). Brandenstein has written a grammar of the language (von Brandenstein 1980).

The Ngadju native title determination has also confirmed the status of Ngadju language as forming part of the traditions, laws and customs of Ngadju people.

Current Work on the Language

GALC linguist, Dr. Marion Mullin (below at work), in working on the collection, linguistic analysis and databasing of the Ngadju language during 2017. The publication of a Ngadju dictionary will be made in Dec 2017. The dictionary will contain a sketch grammar and some texts. Analysis and databasing of this language onto a Toolbox database is underway with over 1400 entries as of September 2017.