Puneet Varma


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Anangu is a term for Australian Aborigine, based on a word found in a number of eastern varieties of the Pama–Nyungan Western Desert Language (WDL), more accurately spelled "Aṉangu" or "Arnangu" and pronounced with the stress on the first syllable: [ˈaɳaŋʊ].


Anangu Carclew

The original meaning of the word was presumably "human being, person", "human body", but it is now used as an Aboriginal endonym used by WDL speaking people and rarely applied to non-Aboriginal people, and has come to be used also as an exonym used by non-Aboriginal Australians to refer to WDL speaking groups or individuals.

Anangu Carclew

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Distribution and spelling

Anangu The Controversy of Uluru Indigenous Religious Traditions

The following table shows the main WDL dialects in which it is used (left column) along with the word spelled according to the orthography of that dialect (right column).

The reasons for the spelling variations are: some WDL dialects do not allow vowel-initial words—in these varieties the word begins with y; some orthographies use underlining (e.g. ṉ) to indicate a retroflex consonant, while others use a digraph (e.g. rn). Pitjantjatjara seems to be the best-known source for the word, but the underlining of the consonant is often ignored (or not understood) by English speakers, and is difficult to type, so the word is very commonly seen as anangu.

Other Australian Aboriginal self-designations

Other Western Desert Language dialects have different words with a similar meaning and range of uses. In the far west of the WDL (i.e. amongst Manyjilyjarra, Kartujarra, Putijarra and Warnman) the word martu is used, and in the central Western Desert (i.e. amongst the western Pintupi) the word purntu, although this seems to be rarely used now.

There are a number of other names from Australian Aboriginal languages commonly used to identify groups based on geography:

  • Koori (or Koorie) in New South Wales and Victoria
  • Murri in southern Queensland
  • Nyoongar in southern Western Australia and South Australia
  • Nunga in southern South Australia
  • Palawah (or Pallawah) in Tasmania.
  • References

    Anangu Wikipedia

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