Arabana language

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RegionSouth Australia; west side Lake Eyre to Stuart Range, Maree, Port Augusta
EthnicityArabana people, Wongkanguru
Native speakers
15 (2016 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
ard – Arabana
wgg – Wangganguru
AIATSIS[1]L13 Arabana (cover term), L27 Wangkangurru

Arabana or Arabuna /ˈʌrəbʌnə/[4] is an Australian Aboriginal language of the Pama–Nyungan family, spoken by the Wongkanguru and Arabana people.

The language is in steep decline, with an estimated 250 speakers according to 2004 NILS, to just 21 speakers found in the 2006 census.[1]

Geographic Distribution[edit]

Arabana is spoken at Neales River on the west side of Lake Eyre west to Stuart Range; Macumba Creek south to Coward Springs; at Oodnadatta, Lora Creek, Lake Cadibarrawirracanna, and the Peake. Their boundary with the Kokata People on the west is marked by the margin of the scarp of the western tableland near Coober Pedy.[1]


An Arabana man making fire, c. 1904.

Arabana has three dialects: Piltapalta, which Hercus refers to as 'Arabana Proper', Wangkakupa, and Midhaliri.[1] Wangganguru was also considered a dialect.


Most of the nasals and laterals are allophonically prestopped.[5]

Peripheral Laminal Apical
Bilabial Velar Palatal Dental Alveolar Retroflex
Stop p k c t ɖ
Nasal m ~ bm ŋ ɲ ~ ɟɲ n̪ ~ d̪n̪ n ~ dn ɳ
Lateral ʎ ~ ɟʎ l̪ ~ d̪l̪ l ~ dl ɭ
Vibrant ɾ ~ r
Approximant w j ɻ

Arabana uses the three vowel sounds, /a/, /i/, and /u/, as typically used in other Aboriginal Australian languages.


  1. Hercus, Luise. 1994. A grammar of the Arabana-Wangkangurru language Lake Eyre Basin, South Australia: Pacific Linguistics C128. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.


  1. ^ a b c d e L13 Arabana (cover term) at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies  (see the info box for additional links)
  2. ^ RMW Dixon (2002), Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development, p xxxvii
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Arabana–Wangganguru". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh
  5. ^ Jeff Mielke, 2008. The emergence of distinctive features, p 135

External links[edit]