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The People and their Traditional Country

The Yinhawangka people traditionally lived around an area in the Pilbara to the south east of the town of Onslow. It covers the area containing the Angelo River, Ashburton River, Hardey River, Kunderong Range, Mount Vernon Station, Rocklea and Turee Creek.


In 2004 there were estimated to be less than four speakers of the Yinhawangka language. A number of people are partial speakers, have a passive knowledge of Yinhawangka and many more identify as being from Yinhawangka heritage. Yinhawangka is classified as a critically endangered language.


Remaining Yinhawangka speakers live in the community of Bellary Springs located between the towns of Tom Price and Paraburdoo, and in the town of Tom Price. Most speakers are elderly with some children of speakers having a strong partial knowledge of the language. There appear to be no children who are speaking the language as a first or strong second language.


Yinhawangka traditional country. (Picture by Nadine Hicks)

Language Resources and Recordings

Tindale recorded the Yinhawangka language during his survey in 1957. Holmer recorded in 1963, Brand in 1968 and Brown in 1979. Wangka Maya has worked with community members, including Joyce and June Injie, since 1983. In 2011, Wangka Maya will continue recording, transcribing and analysing the language and will publish an Yinhawangka children's book. Wangka Maya plans to publish an Yinhawangka Dictionary in 2011/12.


Language Details

Yinhawangka is part of the Pama-Nyungan language family; a large group of indigenous languages spread over much of the Australian continent. It belongs to the Ngayarta subgroup and is related to the languages of Ngarla, Nyamal, Palyku, Najima, Kurrama, Yindjibarndi, Ngarluma, Kariyarra, Martuthunira, Nhuwala and Jurruru.


Past spellings of the Yinhawangka language include Inawannga, Inawongga, Inna-wonga, Inyawonga and Inawonga. It may also have been recorded under the names of Ngalajara, Ngalawonga, Ngalawongga, Ngarla, Ngarlawarngga, Ngarlawongga, Southern Pad ima, Ngalawonga, Ngala and Ngalawongga.


Written Example of the Language


Mirda ngatha nyinyajangu.

I never saw it.


Garlbabarda ngali ngarnabarda-lu.

We'll get up and eat.


Ngarnu nyinyanha gurdiyalama gagayu gubijagu.

We saw the little child yesterday.


Ngathambalu marndayungugu warganha gurumabardarru.

I speared and killed the kangaroo.


Manamama baba nganggayu.

Get water for mum.