|Region||Western Australia Northern Territory|
|Native speakers||200 (2006 census)|
Pintupi is the name commonly used to refer to a variety of the Western Desert Language spoken by indigenous people whose traditional lands are in the area between Lake MacDonald and Lake Mackay, stretching from Mount Liebig in the Northern Territory to Jupiter Well (west of Pollock Hills) in Western Australia. These people moved (or were forced to move) into the indigenous communities of Papunya and Haasts Bluff in the west of the Northern Territory in the 1940s-1980s. The last Pintupi people to leave their traditional lifestyle in the desert came into Kiwirrkura in 1984. Over recent decades they have moved back into their traditional country, setting up the communities of Kintore (in Pintupi known as Walungurru) in the Northern Territory, Kiwirrkura and Jupiter Well (in Pintupi Puntutjarrpa) in Western Australia.
Children who were born in Papunya and Haasts Bluff grew up speaking a new variety of Pintupi, now known as Pintupi-Luritja, due to their close contact with speakers of Arrernte, Warlpiri and other varieties of the WDL. This has continued through the moves west so that most Pintupi people today speak Pintupi-Luritja, although there remains a clear distinction between the more western and eastern varieties.
Pintupi has 17 consonant phonemes. The symbols used in the practical orthography are shown in brackets where they differ from the IPA symbols.
|Plosive||p||k||t||ʈ (t)||t̻ (tj)|
|Nasal||m||ŋ (ng)||n||ɳ (n)||n̻ (ny)|
|Lateral||l||ɭ (l)||l̻ (ly)|
|Approximant||w||ɻ (r)||j (y)|
The trill /r/ usually has a single contact (i.e. a flap [ɾ]) in ordinary speech, but multiple contacts (a true trill) in slow, emphatic, or angry speech. The retroflex approximant /ɻ/ may also be realized as a flap [ɽ].
Hansen and Hansen (1969) refer to the retroflex consonants as "apico-domal".
Pintupi has six vowel phonemes, three long and three short. All are monophthongal at the phonemic level. Again, the symbols used in the practical orthography are shown enclosed in brackets where they differ from the phonemic symbols.
|Close||i • iː (ii)||u • uː (uu)|
|Open||a • aː (aa)|
The short vowel phonemes are devoiced when word-final at the end of a clause, as in [ŋurakutulpi̥] 'he finally (came) to camp', [kapilat̻uɻḁ] 'we all (brought) water for him', and [jilariŋu̥] 'it was close'.
Short vowels are rhotacized before retroflex consonants, as in [wa˞ʈa] 'tree (generic)', [ka˞ɳa] 'spear (one type)', and [mu˞ɭi] 'a shelter'.
The open vowel /a/ is diphthongized to [aⁱ] and [aᵘ] before /j/ and /w/ respectively, as in [waⁱjunpuwa] 'pare (it)' and [kaᵘwu˞ɳpa] 'cold ashes'.
An orthography was developed by the Hansens and is used in their publications, which include a dictionary, a grammar sketch and bible portions. This orthography is also used in the bilingual school, and especially in the school's Literature Production Centre. The orthography is shown in the above tables of consonants and vowels.
Pintupi has only two possible syllable types: CV (a consonant followed by a vowel) and CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant). In the middle of a word, /m/ and /ŋ/ may appear in the syllable coda only when followed by a homorganic plosive, as in /t̻ampu/ 'left side' and /miŋkiɻi/ 'mouse'. Otherwise, only coronal sonorants may appear in the syllable coda. All consonants except the apico-alveolars and /l̻/ may appear in word-initial position; only coronal sonorants (except /ɻ/) may appear in word-final position. However, at the end of a clause, the syllable /pa/ is added to consonant-final words, so consonants may not appear in clause-final position.
Short vowels may appear anywhere in the word; long vowels may appear only in the first syllable (which is stressed), as in /ɳiːrki/ 'eagle' and /maːra/ 'ignorant'.
When a suffix-initial /t/ follows a root-final consonant, the /t/ assimilates in place of articulation to the preceding consonant, as in /maɭan̻ + tu/ → [maɭan̻t̻u] 'younger sibling (transitive subject)', /pawuɭ + ta/ → [pawuɭʈa] 'at the spirit ground'. However, the sequence /r + t/ undergoes coalescence and surfaces as simple [ʈ], as in /t̻intar + ta/ → [t̻intaʈa] 'at Tjintar'.
When two identical CV sequences meet at a word boundary, they undergo haplology and fuse into a single word in rapid speech, as in /mutikajiŋka kaɭpakatiŋu/ → [mutikajiŋkaɭpakatiŋu] 'climbed into the car' and /parariŋu ŋuɻurpa/ → [parariŋuɻurpa] 'went around the middle'. When a lamino-alveolar consonant or /j/ is followed by /a/ in the last syllable of a word, and the next word begins with /ja/, the word-initial /j/ is deleted and the two adjacent /a/-sounds merge into a long /aː/, as in /ŋal̻a januja/ → [ŋal̻aːnuja] 'they all came' and /wija japura/ → [wijaːpura] 'not west'.
Pintupi words are stressed on the first syllable. In careful speech, every second syllable after that (i.e. the third, fifth, seventh, etc.) may receive a secondary stress, but secondary stress never falls on the final syllable of the word, as in [ˈt̻akaˌmaraˌkuɳaɻa] 'for the benefit of Tjakamara' and [ˈjumaˌɻiŋkaˌmaraˌt̻uɻaka] 'because of mother-in-law'. However, the particle /ka/ (which indicates a change of subject) is not stressed when it is the first morpheme in a clause, as in /kaˈjanu/ '(he) went'.
- Pintupi reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
- Pintupi at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
- "Pintupi". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.
- Myers, Fred (1988). "Locating Ethnographic Practice: Romance, Reality and Politics in the Outback". American Ethnologist 15 (4): 609–624. doi:10.1525/ae.1988.15.4.02a00010.
- Hansen, K. C.; L. E. Hansen (1969). "Pintupi phonology". Oceanic Linguistics 8 (2): 153–70. doi:10.2307/3622818. JSTOR 3622818.
- Hansen, K.C.; L. E. Hansen (1974). The Core of Pintupi Grammar. Alice Springs, Northern Territory: Institute for Aboriginal Development.
- Hansen, K.C.; L. E. Hansen (1978). Pintupi/Luritja Dictionary. Alice Springs, Northern Territory: Institute for Aboriginal Development. ISBN 0-949659-63-0.
- Hansen, K.C.; L. E. Hansen (1981). Katutjalu Watjantja Yirrititjanu. Adelaide, South Australia: Lutheran Publishing House.