Lesson 2 – Sounds and Spelling

The Yankunytjatjara alphabet as 23 letters in it. While it uses letters that are used in English, they are not always pronounced the in the same way as English. It is important to note four letters have lines underneath them to indicate they are different to their non underlined counterparts. Look out for these when reading Yankunytjatjara. Here is the Yankunytjatjara alphabet:

a aa i ii k l ḻ ly m n ṉ ng ny p r ṟ t ṯ tj u uu w y


Consonants

k

as in skate. This sound is between a ‘k’ (kite) and a ‘g’ (gate) in English.

Try saying:

Yankunytjatjara
English
kungka
woman

p

as in spark. This sound is between a ‘p’ (pass) and a ‘b’ (but).

Try saying:

papa
dog

l

as in lunch.

Try saying:

liri
throat

as in curl said in a North American accent. The tip of the tongue curls back in the mouth.

Try saying:

puka
big

ly

these two letters stand for one sound. As in million. Never like silly.

Try saying:

palya
ok, good

m

as in mad.

Try saying:

malu
kangaroo

n

as in nice.

Try saying:

nanngu
barb, hook

ng

these two letters stand for one sound. As in sing.

Try saying:

ngutu
chin

ny

these two letters stand for one sound. As in onion or canyon. Never like pony.

Try saying:

nyiku
elbow

r

In Yankunytjatjara this is a trilled sound. Similar to a Scottish trill. Like ladder but longer.

Try saying:

waru
blackfooted wallaby

As in barn, said in a North American accent. The tip of the tongue curls back in the mouth. This may also be written as a capital ‘R’ in some materials.

Try saying:

maa
hand

t

as in time.

Try saying:

tali
sandhill

tj

these two letters stand for one sound. As in fudge and judge.

Try saying:

tjapu
small

w

as in wing.

Try saying:

wiya
no

y

as in toy

Try saying:

yaḻṯa
coal


Vowels

a

as in sofa. Never like hate or hat.

Try saying:

anangu
Western Desert people

aa

like father but drawn out.

Try saying:

nyaa
what

i

as in pit or beat. Never like bite.

Try saying:

ila
near, close

ii

like see but drawn out.

Try saying:

nyii-nyii
zebra finch (bird)

u

as in put. Never like but.

Try saying:

unu
ash, ashes

uu

like pool but drawn out.

Try saying:

yuu
windbreak


Next up we’ll be taking a look at words and sentences you can use when talking about the family.

Previous All Lessons Next