|Extinct as a first language since 1931
Subsequently revived, with a small number of competent speakers and nascent neo-native speakers as of 2013.
Kaurna (// or //) is the language of the Kaurna people, an Australian Aboriginal ethnic group of South Australia. It was historically spoken in the area of the Adelaide Plains bounded by Crystal Brook and Clare in the north and Cape Jervis in the south. It ceased to be spoken on an every-day basis in the 19th century, but, in a process that began in the 1990s, is being reclaimed and re-introduced. Kaurna Warra Pintyandi is the peak body developing and promoting the Kaurna language. Based at the University of Adelaide, it is a committee comprising Kaurna Elders and youth, as well as teachers, linguists and other researchers.
R. M. W. Dixon classifies Kaurna as a dialect of the Kadli language, along with Nantuwara, Ngadjuri, Narangka, and Nukunu. Luise Hercus (1992) classifies Kaurna, along with Narungga, Nukunu and Ngadjuri, in the Meru subgroup of the larger group of Thura-Yura languages (which includes Yura Ngawarla or Adnyamathanha).
History of the name
The term 'Kaurna' was first recorded by Missionary Surgeon Dr William Wyatt (1879: 24) for 'Encounter Bay Bob's Tribe'. At the same time he recorded 'Meeyurna' for 'Onkaparinga Jack's Tribe'. Kaurna most likely derives from kornar, the word for 'people' in the neighbouring Ramindjeri/Ngarrindjeri language [Berndt & Berndt (1993: 19) noted that kornarinyeri which became Point McLeay Mission, Rev George Taplin's Narrinyeri thus Narindjeri or Ngarindjeri hence contemporary Ngarrindjeri]. Mullawirraburka (Onkaparinga Jack), also known to the colonists as 'King John', was one of Teichelmann and Schurmann's main sources. Encounter Bay Bob, as his name suggests, came from Encounter Bay (Victor Harbor) and was most likely a fully initiated elder Ramindjeri man. Thus Meyunna is probably an endonym and would linguistically be preferable as the name for this language group as Lewis O'Brien suggested in the mid 1990s. However, they are now universally known as the Kaurna people.
History of the language
Kaurna is currently not spoken as a native language (and thus classified as a dead language), but it is being revived with the aid of a dictionary compiled by two German missionaries in the 1840s.
Efforts to revive Kaurna began in 1990 with the writing of several Kaurna songs originally written in the Ngarrindjeri, Narrunga and Kaurna languages. A second songbook, Kaurna Paltinna was published in 1999. Following one-off workshops in 1990 and 1991, a Kaurna language program was introduced into Kaurna Plains School in 1992. Kaurna is now taught at all levels of education, including a Kaurna linguistics course taught at the University of Adelaide (first introduced in 1997).
The former range of the language was mapped by Norman Tindale and Dr Robert Amery and is managed by the Kaurna people.
Kaurna place names
Many prominent placenames are drawn from the Kaurna language. These include Ngangkiparringga (Onkaparinga) 'women's river place', Nurlongga (Noarlunga) 'corner/curvature place', Ngaltingga (Aldinga), Willangga (Willunga), Maitpangga (Myponga), Kanggarilla (Kangarilla) 'shepherding place', Yernkalyilla (Yankalilla) 'place of the fallen bits', Waitpingga (Waitpinga) 'wind place', Kauwandilla (Cowandilla) 'in the north', Yurridla (Uraidla) 'two ears' etc.
Several placenames, such as Warriparringga (Warriparinga) 'windy river place' and Piltawodli 'brushtail possum home' have been reinstated. Some other names, such as Yertabulti (Port Adelaide), Patpangga (Rapid Bay) 'in the south' and Pattawilya (Glenelg) 'swamp gum foliage', are known from historical sources, but are yet to be fully reinstated. (See Amery & Williams, 2002)
Since efforts to reintroduce the Kaurna language, beginning in 1980 with the naming of Warriappendi Alternative School, it has gained a profile within the public domain. Many people, pets, organisations, clubs, sporting teams, programs, places, buildings, and other items have taken (or been given) Kaurna names. The Kaurna language is used frequently to give speeches of Welcome to Kaurna Country. Many public artworks, beginning in 1995 with the Yerrakartarta installation outside the Hyatt Hotel on North Terrace, Adelaide, have incorporated words, phrases and text drawn from the Kaurna language. Language classes are now offered through the Kaurna Plains School and the Warriparinga Living Kaurna Centre.
- Kaurna at MultiTree on the Linguist List
- Phil Mercer (22 January 2013). "Lost indigenous language revived in Australia". BBC. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
- Kaurna at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
- *Dixon, R. M. W. (2002). Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-47378-0, ISBN 978-0-521-47378-1.
- Amery, Rob (2000). Warrabarna Kaurna! - reclaiming an Australian Language. The Netherlands: Swets & Zeitlinger. ISBN 90-265-1633-9.
- Amery, 2002
- Teichelmann, C. G.; C. W. Schürmann (1982) . Outlines of a grammar, vocabulary and phraseology of the Aboriginal language of South Australia spoken by the natives in and for some distance around Adelaide. Tjintu Books. ISBN 0-9593616-0-X.
- Amery, Rob (2000) 'Warrabarna Kaurna! Reclaiming an Australian Language. Swets & Zeitlinger, Lisse, The Netherlands. ISBN 90-265-1633-9
- Amery, Rob (compiler) (2003) Warra Kaurna. A Resource for Kaurna Language Programs. Kaurna Warra Pintyandi, Adelaide. ISBN 0-9751834-0-0
- Amery, Rob (2002) 'Weeding out Spurious Etymologies: Toponyms on the Adelaide Plains.' In Luise Hercus, Flavia Hodges & Jane Simpson (eds) The Land is a Map: Placenames of Indigenous Origin in Australia, 165-180.
- Amery, Rob & Georgina Yambo Williams (2002) 'Reclaiming Through Renaming: The Reinstatement of Kaurna Toponyms in Adelaide and the Adelaide Plains.' In Luise Hercus, Flavia Hodges & Jane Simpson (eds) The Land is a Map: Placenames of Indigenous Origin in Australia, 255-276.
- Wyatt, William (1879) Some Account of the Manners and Superstitions of the Adelaide and Encounter Bay Aboriginal Tribes with a Vocabulary of their Languages.