Language of the Day: Pitjantjatjara

Carclew group shot_MEDPitjantjatjara is a dialect of the Western Desert Language found in the Central Desert region of Australia. The Western Desert Language itself is comprised of a variety of distinct dialects many of which are viewed as separate languages because of the vast differences that exist between the many dialects. The closest dialects to Pitjantjatjara are either the Yankunytjatjara dialect or the Ngaanyatjarra dialect.

The Western Desert language grouping became so diverse because of the large expanse of desert which the people populate. The groups who speak one of the many dialects would have done so without much of any contact with other tribes allowing the many dialects to grow and flourish. This lack of influence from one dialect to the next resulted in what can be seen in the area now; many unique dialects that are unintelligible from one another.

Today Pitjantjatjara is spoken by nearly 4000 people spread across the north-western area of the Central Desert. These people are broken into small groups most of whom are monolingual. While the people have given up their nomadic hunter and gather lifestyle they have retained their language and their culture.

Comment (I always comment back, promise)