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Walmajarri (many other names; see below) is a Pama–Nyungan language spoken in Western Australia by the Walmadjari and related peoples.

RegionWestern Australia
Native speakers
283 (2016 census)[1]
  • Walmatjarri
  • Tjuwalinj
  • Pililuna
Language codes
ISO 639-3wmt
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Names for this language break down along the three dialects:

  • Walmajarri, Walmatjarri, Walmatjari, Walmadjari, Walmatjiri, Walmajiri, Walmatjeri, Walmadjeri, Walmadyeri, Walmaharri, Wolmeri, Wolmera, Wulmari
  • Bililuna, Pililuna
  • Jiwarliny, Juwaliny, Tjiwaling, Tjiwarlin


Communities with a Walmajarri population are:

The Walmajarri people used to live in the Great Sandy Desert. The effects of colonialism took them to the cattle stations, towns and missions in the North and scattered them over a wide area. The geographical distance accounts for the fact that there are several dialects, which have been further polarized by the lack of contact and further influenced by neighbouring languages.



Front Back
High i, iː u, uː
Low a, aː


Peripheral Laminal Apical
Bilabial Velar Palatal Alveolar Retroflex
Stop p k c t ʈ
Nasal m ŋ ɲ n ɳ
Lateral ʎ l ɭ
Rhotic r
Approximant w j ɻ


Warlmajarri is a suffixing language. There are no prefixes.


Warlmajarri has 4 syntactic cases: nominative, ergative, dative and assessory case. The cases assign different meanings to the noun phrases of a sentence. Therefore, the word order can vary quite freely. Subject, Object or Verb can appear initial, final, medial in sentence.

However, the second position of a sentence is always reserved for the Verbal Auxiliary. Sometimes referred to as a Catalyst, the Verbal Auxiliary indicates the mood of a sentence (similar to the English auxiliaries), but also cross-references its noun phrases. The person and number of the noun phrases in their syntactic cases are shown in the Verbal Auxiliary.


  1. ^ "Census 2016, Language spoken at home by Sex (SA2+)". ABS. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Walmajarri". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ A66 Walmajarri at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
  • Hudson, Joyce. (1978). The Walmatjari: An Introduction to the Language and Culture. Darwin: Summer Institute of Linguistics
  • Hudson, Joyce. (1978). The core of Walmatjari grammar. Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies. New Jersey, U.S.A.: Humanities Press Inc.
  • Hudson, Joyce & Richards, Eirlys. (1969). The phonology of Walmatjari.
  • Hudson, Joyce & Richards, Eirlys. (1990). Walmajarri–English Dictionary. Darwin: Summer Institute of Linguistics

External linksEdit