|Region||central Northern Territory|
|140 (2006 census)|
|Akitiri Sign Language|
Kaytetye (Kaititj) is an Australian Aboriginal language of central Northern Territory.
Kaytetye is phonologically unusual in a number of ways. Words start with vowels and end with schwa; full CV(C) syllables only occur within a word, as in the word arrkwentyarte 'three' (schwa is spelled 〈e〉, unless initial, in which case it is not written and often not pronounced). Stress falls on the first full syllable. There are only two productive vowels, but numerous consonants, including pre-stopped and pre-palatalized consonants.
Consonants occur plain and labialized.
|Stop||p pʷ||k kʷ||c cʷ||t̪ t̪ʷ||ʲt ʲtʷ||t tʷ||ʈ ʈʷ|
|Nasal||m mʷ||ŋ ŋʷ||ɲ ɲʷ||n̪ n̪ʷ||ʲn ʲnʷ||n nʷ||ɳ ɳʷ|
|Prestopped nasal||ᵖm ᵖmʷ||ᵏŋ ᵏŋʷ||ᶜɲ ᶜɲʷ||ᵗn̪ ᵗn̪ʷ||ʲᵗn ʲᵗnʷ||ᵗn ᵗnʷ||ᵗɳ ᵗɳʷ|
|Lateral Approximant||ʎ ʎʷ||l̪ l̪ʷ||ʲl ʲlʷ||l lʷ||ɭ ɭʷ|
|Approximant||ɰ w||j jʷ||ɻ ɻʷ|
[w] is phonemically /ɰʷ/. In the orthography, /ɰ/ is written 〈h〉.
|High||(i)||ɨ ~ ə|
/i/ is marginal.
Two-vowel systems are unusual, but occur in closely related Arrernte as well as in some Northwest Caucasian languages. It seems that the vowel system derives from an earlier one with the typical Australian /i a u/, but that *u lost its roundedness to neighboring consonants, resulting in the labialized series of consonants, while *i lost its frontness (palatal-ness) to other consonants as well, resulting in some cases in the prepalatalized series.
elder and younger brother
mother and child
Dual and plural pronouns distinguish clusivity as well as moiety (or 'section') and generation. That is, for a male speaker, different pronouns are used for I and my sibling, grandparent, grandchild (even generation, same moiety), I and my father, I and my brother's child (odd generation, same moiety), and I and my mother, spouse, sister's child (opposite moiety). This results in twelve pronouns for 'we':
|Number & person||Even generation
That is, root ay-, dual suffix -la or plural -na, exclusive infix 〈en〉, an irregular nasal for even generation, and a suffix for same moiety -ke or opposite moiety -nthe.
Verbs include incorporated former verbs of motion that indicate direction and relative timing of someone, usually the subject of the verb. There are differences depending on whether the verb is transitive or intransitive:
|Time||angke 'talk'||Gloss||kwathe 'drink'||Gloss|
(go/come and X)
|angke-ye-ne-||talk after going||kwathe-ye-ne-||drink after going|
|angke-ye-tnye-||talk after coming||kwathe-ye-tnye-||drink after coming|
|angke-ya-lpe-||talk after returning||kwathe-ya-lpe-||drink after returning|
|angke-ya-yte-||talk after someone arrives||kwathe-ya-yte-||drink after someone arrives|
(X and go/come)
|angke-rra-yte-||talk before leaving||kwathe-la-yte-||drink before leaving|
|angke-rra-lpe-||talk before returning||kwathe-la-lpe-||drink before returning|
(X while going/coming)
|angke-yerna-lpe-||talk while coming||kwathe-yerna-lpe-||drink while coming|
|angke-rra-pe-||talk while going along||kwathe-rra-pe-yne-||drink while going along|
|angke-rra-ngke-rre-nye-||talk continuously while going along||kwathe-la-the-la-rre-||drink continuously while going along|
|angke-lpa-ngke-||talk once when on the way||kwathe-lpa-the-||drink once when on the way|
|Prior and subsequent||angke-nya-yne-||go and talk and come back||kwathe-nya-yne-||go and drink and come back|
- Kaytetye reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
- Kaytetye at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
- Koch, 2006. "Kaytetye". In the Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd ed.