Note on Orthography - part of a Catalogue essay

By by Dr Christine Nicholls, Posted Feb 2, 2019

A standardised system for writing a specific language.

Numerous orthographies have been applied to Australian Aboriginal language; to some extent this is dependent on ‘linguistic fashion’.

In the Anmatyerr/Alywarr ‘skin’ system, using currently accepted orthography are organised as follows:

  • Alywarr: Kngwarreye, Petyarre, Purle, Kemarre
  • Anmatyerr: Kngwarreye, Penance, Peltharre, Pengarte, Perrurle, Ngale, Kemarre, Mpetyane

Note that both men and women can be addressed by these kinship terms, and that both systems derive from what is known as the Arandic system (that is, they are based on Arrernte kinship classifications).

As for the spelling of ‘Kngwarreye’, the accepted orthography ..(cf ‘Emily Kame Kngwarreye”)

The spelling systems of these previously unwritten languages must be regarded as still under consideration. What also needs to be taken into consideration is the fact that a good deal of the dispute or argumentation over the spelling systems of these language amounts to little more than competitive posturing among non-indigenous linguists.

Other examples of spelling the language group or skin names are found to include:

  • Anmajera, Anmatjerre, Anmatyerre, Anmatyerre 
  • Ngawarai, Kngwarray, Kngwarreye, Kngwarraye, 
  • Apetyarr, Pitjara, Pijara
  • Peltharre, Peltharr, Petyerre, Petyarre
  • Perrurl, Perrurle, Purle, Pwerl, Pwerle


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