The People and their Traditional Country
Nyiyaparli country is traditionally located to the south of the town of Marble Bar, and includes the area around the town of Newman and the pastoral stations of Roy Hill, Balfour Downs, Ethel Creek and others. Very few Nyiyaparli people live in the town of Newman, but close cultural and family links with the Martu people from Manyjilyjarra and Kartujarra country has seen these language groups given permission to live in Nyiyaparli country.
The Nyiyaparli language is spoken by around 200 people. There are many more people who have a partial or passive understanding of the language, or who identify as being of Nyiyaparli heritage and speak another language.
Most Nyiyaparli people migrated to the town of Port Hedland during the 1980s and 90s. However, many Nyiyaparli people have intermarried with other language groups and have spread through the Pilbara region.
Language Resources and Recordings
David Stock, Susie Yuline, Cheryl Yuline, Julie Fland, Charlie Stream (dec), Gordon Yuline, Arthur Stream, Mick Blair, Hilda Flann, Daisy Yuline, Bonny Tucker, Dolly Swan, Horace Nelson and Kathleen Wobby have all contributed to Nyiyaparli recordings over the last 40 years. Brand recorded some sentences in Nyiyaparli in 1969, Geytenbeek has worked on recording the language since 1973 and Wangka Maya linguists have worked on the production of a database and dictionary since 2000. Wangka Maya published the Nyiyaparli Dictionary in 2008 and has also produced a book of short stories by Nyiyaparli people living in Marble Bar, Wiyarnma Nyiyaparli Wangka Mirlimirlila, and Charlie Stream's story Kukarli the Lizard.
Nyiyaparli traditional country near the town of Newman. (Photo by Philip Swan)
Nyiyapali language is classified as being a Pama-Nyungan of the south-west (Nyungic) groups of languages. It is of the Wati family of languages along with around 40 other languages which includes Warnman, Kartujarra, Manyjilyjarra, Ngala, Pintupi, Pitjantjatjara and many other western and eastern desert languages.
Written Examples of the Language
Nyiyaparta yawarta marlkarri kurtuwanipi. Kurruruwanipi witha parti.
This horse has fallen down dead. It was bony from not having any food.
Kurnampa ngayimpa ngurrluwarti. Marlkarripa wiyarnmiya nhuwalulu. Ngurrkamari ngayimpa. Panuwathi kapulkarri.
This fellow is sleeping at his camp. Maybe he’s dead, you’d better have a look. He’s snoring in his sleep. He might be dreaming.
Wangkapurtayi mirlimirlingka nyiyangka wangkapipula Nyiyaparli marlpa purtayi pantimpipula Piparnyangka.
The stories in this book have been written by Nyiyaparli people living in Marble Bar.
Thaturngu, Nyiyaparli marlpa pantimpipula warri Mangkurtu. Piparnya warri Nyamal marlpa purtayiku.
Traditionally the Nyiyaparli people’s country is around the Fortescue Marsh. The Marble Bar area is the area of the Nyamal people.