The Arrernte region is large and traditionally, there are many different
family areas within it, each with their own dialect. Language is strongly
connected with family membership and the relationships to land and
Dreamings that go with this. Identifying as a speaker of a particular
language or dialect can be very important for Arrernte people in a
way that goes beyond just the actual language. It is a way of expressing
membership in a particular family, or association to particular country.
The differences between dialects, even when they are only small differences,
are often very significant to speakers.
The coming together of speakers of different dialects of Arrernte
in Alice Springs, in government and mission settlements, and on cattle
stations, has also resulted in some confusion about the traditional
dialect distinctions within the area. There have been quite large
changes in some dialects form older generations to younger, and there
are many words that only the oldest speakers now know. Arrernte people
still know the different family areas, but it is sometimes less clear
which ones a particular word belongs in. Rather than trying to identify
exactly which family dialect a word belongs to in this dictionary,
we identify the part of the Eastern and Central Arrernte region where
is from using the following map.
here for Language Map.
From time immemorial - that is, as far back as traditions go - the
boundaries of the tribes have been where they are now fixed. Within
them their ancestors roamed about, hunting and performing their ceremonies
just as their living descendants do at the present day. There has
never apparently been the least attempt made by one tribe to encroach
upon the territory of another.