Indigenous languages in NT

More than 100 Aboriginal languages and dialects are spoken in the Northern Territory (NT).

Aboriginal languages of the NT vary greatly in their grammatical structures, concepts and vocabulary. 

Map of major Aboriginal languages of the NT (393.5 kb)

Map of major Aboriginal languages of the NT (279.5 kb)

Most widely spoken Aboriginal languages in NT

Language Region

East Side/West Side Kriol

Katherine

Yolngu Matha

Top End

Warlpiri

Katherine, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs

Pitjantjatjara*

Alice Springs

Murrinh Patha

Top End

Anindilyakwa

Top End

Eastern/Central Arrernte, Western Arrarnta+

Alice Springs

Kunwinjku

Top End

Burarra

Top End

Modern Tiwi

Top End

Luritja/Pintupi*

Alice Springs

Gurindji

Katherine

Maung

Top End

Alyawarr/Anmatyerr+

Alice Springs, Tennant Creek

Warumungu

Tennant Creek

* Western Desert family
+Arandic family

 

Languages by community

Region Language
Tiwi Islands  

Milikapiti
Pirlangimpi (Garden Point)
Wurrumiyanga (Nguiu)

Tiwi (Modern and Traditional)
Tiwi (Modern and Traditional)
Tiwi (Modern and Traditional)

West Arnhem region  

Gunbalanya (Oenpelli)
Maningrida
Minjilang (Croker Island)
Warruwi

Kunwinjku
Burarra, Ndjebbana, Kunwinjku, Yolngu Matha
Iwaidja
Maung

East Arnhem region  

Angurugu (Groote Eylandt)
Galiwin’ku
Gapuwiyak
Gunyangara (Ski Beach)
Milingimbi
Milyakburra (Bickerton Island)
Ramingining
Umbakumba (Groote Eylandt)
Yirrkala

Anindilyakwa
Yolngu Matha (Djambarrpuyngu, Galpu, Golumala, Rirratjingu)
Yolngu Matha (Djambarrpuyngu)
Yolngu Matha (Gumatj, Dhuwaya, Galpu, Rirratjingu)
Yolngu Matha (Djambarrpuyngu, Gupapuyngu)
Anindilyakwa
Yolngu Matha (Gupapuyngu, Djambarrpuyngu, Djinang)
Anindilyakwa
Yolngu Matha (Gumatj, Dhuwaya, Galpu, Rirratjingu, Djapu, Djambarrpuyngu)

Victoria Daly region  

Kalkaringi/Daguragu
Nauiyu (Daly River)
Nganmarriyanga (Palumpa)
Peppimenarti
Pine Creek
Timber Creek
Yarralin
Wadeye

Gurindji, Westside Kriol
Ngan’gikurrunggurr, Kriol
Ngan’gikurrunggurr, Kriol, Murrinh Patha
Murrinh Patha, Ngan’gikurrunggurr, Kriol
Kriol, Mayali
Westside Kriol
Ngarinyman, Westside Kriol
Murrinh Patha

Roper Gulf region  

Barunga
Borroloola
Bulman
Jilkminggan/Mataranka
Manyallaluk
Minyerri
Ngukurr
Numbulwar
Wugularr (Beswick)

Eastside Kriol
Yanyuwa, Garrwa, Eastside Kriol
Eastside Kriol
Eastside Kriol
Eastside Kriol
Eastside Kriol
Eastside Kriol
Eastside Kriol, Nunggubuyu
Eastside Kriol

Barkly region  

Ali Curung
Alpurrurulam
Ampilatwatja
Arlparra (Utopia)
Elliott
Tennant Creek
Wutunugurra

Warlpiri, Wumpurrarni English*
Alyawarr
Alyawarr
Alyawarr, Anmatyerr
Kriol
Warumungu, Wumpurrarni English*, Warlpiri, Alyawarr
Alyawarr

Central Desert region  

Lajamanu
Laramba
Nyirrpi
Pmara Jutunta (Ti Tree)
Willowra
Yuelamu
Yuendumu

Warlpiri
Anmatyerr
Warlpiri
Anmatyerr, Warlpiri
Warlpiri
Anmatyerr, Warlpiri
Warlpiri

MacDonnell region  

Amoonguna
Apatula (Finke)
Hermannsburg (Ntaria)
Kaltukatjara (Docker River)
Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa)
Utju (Areyonga)
Walangurru (Kintore)
Watiyawanu (Mt. Liebig)
Warumpi (Papunya)

Eastern/Central Arrernte, Western Arrarnta
Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, Luritja/Pintupi
Western Arrarnta
Pitjantjatjara, Ngaatjatjarra
Eastern/Central Arrernte, Western Arrarnta
Pitjantjatjara, Luritja/Pintupi, Western Arrarnta
Luritja/Pintupi
Luritja/Pintupi
Luritja/Pintupi

This information is not intended to be exhaustive of all languages and dialects spoken in the Territory. The NT is one of the most linguistically diverse areas of the world. 

For comprehensive information about Aboriginal languages of the NT go to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies website.

Last updated: 28 November 2016