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Anangu is the name used by members of several central Australian Aboriginal groups, roughly approximate to the Western Desert cultural bloc, to describe themselves.[1] The term, which embraces several distinct 'tribes', is accurately spelled "Aṉangu" and pronounced with the stress on the first syllable: [ˈaɳaŋʊ].


The termEdit

The original meaning of the word was "human being, person", "human body" in a number of eastern varieties of the Pama–Nyungan Western Desert Languages (WDL), in particular Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara. It is now used as an Aboriginal endonym by a wide range of Western Desert Language peoples. It is rarely or never applied to non-Aboriginal people. It has come to be used also as an exonym by non-Aboriginal Australians to refer to WDL-speaking groups or individuals.

With regard to the term's distribution and spelling, the following table shows the main WDL dialects in which it is used (left column) along with the word spelled according to the orthography of that dialect (right column).

Pitjantjatjara, Pintupi-Luritja aṉangu
Southern (Titjikala) Luritja, Ngaanyatjarra, Ngaatjatjarra yarnangu
Yankunytjatjara yaṉangu

The reasons for the spelling variations are that some WDL dialects do not allow vowel-initial words—in these varieties the word begins with y; some orthographies use underlining (e.g. ṉ) to indicate a retroflex consonant, while others use a digraph (e.g. rn). Pitjantjatjara seems to be the best-known source for the word, but the underlining of the consonant is often ignored (or not understood) by English speakers, and is difficult to type, so the word is very commonly, but incorrectly, rendered as anangu.


The Anangu dwell primarily in the Central Western desert, to the south of the Arrernte and Walpiri.[2]

See alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

Explanatory notesEdit



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