Arrernte or Aranda (; Arrernte [aɾəⁿɖə]) or sometimes referred to as Upper Arrernte (Upper Aranda), is a dialect cluster in the Arandic language group spoken in parts of the Northern Territory, Australia, by the Arrernte people. Other spelling variations are Arunta or Arrarnta, and all of the dialects have multiple other names.
There are about 1,800 speakers of Eastern/Central Arrernte, making this dialect one of the widest spoken of any Indigenous language in Australia, the one usually referred to as Arrernte and the one described in detail below. It is spoken in the Alice Springs area and taught in schools and universities, heard on media and used in local government.
Glottolog defines the Arandic group of languages/dialects as comprising 5 Aranda (Arrernte) dialects, plus two distinct languages, Kaytetye (Koch, 2004) and Lower Southern (or just Lower) Aranda, an extinct language. Ethnologue defines 8 Arandic languages and classifies them slightly differently.
Argadargada in the NT. It is now extinct.[a] Breen (2001) says that the language was regarded as the same or similar to Andegerebinha/Antekerrepenhe by some speakers, and Glottolog regards it as a dialect of it.
The Northern Territory Department of Education has a program for teaching Indigenous culture and languages, underpinned by a plan entitled with the second stage of the plan running from 2018 to 2020).Keeping Indigenous Languages and Cultures Strong – A Plan for Teaching and Learning of Indigenous Languages and Cultures in the Northern Territory
Projects are being run to revive dying dialects of the language, such as Southern Arrernte/Pertame.
Stops are unaspirated. Prenasalized stops are voiced throughout; prestopped nasals are voiceless during the stop. These sounds arose as normal consonant clusters; Ladefoged states that they now occur initially, where consonant clusters are otherwise forbidden, due to historical loss of initial vowels; however, it has also been argued that such words start with a phonemic schwa, which may not be pronounced (see below).
The vowel system of Eastern/Central Arrernte is unusual in that there are only two contrastive vowel phonemes, /a/ and /ə/. Two-vowel systems are very rare worldwide, but are also found in some Northwest Caucasian languages. It seems that the vowel system derives from an earlier one with more phonemes, but after the development of labialised consonants in the vicinity of round vowels, the vowels lost their roundedness/backness distinction, merging into just two phonemes. There is no allophonic variation in different consonantal contexts for the vowels. Instead, the phonemes can be realised by various different articulations in free variation. For example, the phoneme /ə/ can be pronounced [ɪ ~ e ~ ə ~ ʊ] in any context.
The underlying syllable structure of Eastern/Central Arrernte is argued to be VC(C), with obligatory codas and no onsets. Underlying phrase-initial /ə/ is realised as zero, except before a rounded consonant where, by a rounding process of general applicability, it is realised as [ʊ]. It is also common for phrases to carry a final [ə] corresponding to no underlying segment.
Among the evidence for this analysis is that some suffixes have suppletive variants for monosyllabic and bisyllabic bases. Stems that appear monosyllabic and begin with a consonant in fact select the bisyllabic variant. Stress falls on the first nucleus preceded by a consonant, which by this analysis can be stated more uniformly as the second underlying syllable. And the frequentative is formed by reduplicating the final VC syllable of the verb stem; it does not include the final [ə].
Central/Eastern Arrernte orthography does not write word-initial /ə/, and adds an e to the end of every word.