RegionWestern Australia
Native speakers
12 (2005)[1]
Ngada Sign Language
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Ngaatjatjarra (also Ngaatjatjara, Ngaadadjarra) is an Australian Aboriginal dialect of the Western Desert language. It is spoken in the Western Desert cultural bloc which covers about 600 000 square kilometres of the arid central and central-western desert. It is very similar to its close neighbours Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Pintupi, with which it is highly mutually intelligible.

Most Ngaatjatjarra live in one of the communities of Warburton, Warakurna, Tjukurla or Docker River.

Origin of the name

The name Ngaatjatjarra derives from the word ngaatja 'this' which, combined with the comitative suffix -tjarra means something like ' ngaatja-having'. This distinguishes it from its near neighbour Ngaanyatjarra which has ngaanya for 'this'.

Sign language

The Ngaada have (or at one point had) a signed form of their language,[2] though it is not clear from records that it was particularly well-developed compared to other Australian Aboriginal sign languages.[3]


  1. ^ a b A43 Ngaatjatjarra at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
  2. ^ C.P. Mountford (1938) "Gesture language of the Ngada tribe of the Warburton Ranges, Western Australia", Oceania 9: 152–155. Reprinted in Aboriginal sign languages of the Americas and Australia. New York: Plenum Press, 1978, vol. 2, pp. 393–396.
  3. ^ Kendon, A. (1988) Sign Languages of Aboriginal Australia: Cultural, Semiotic and Communicative Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press