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Kaurna is a revived Pama-Nyungan language spoken in parts of South Australia by a small number of people. It was historically spoken in parts of the Adelaide Plains between Crystal Brook and Clare in the north and Cape Jervis in the south and just over the Mount Lofty range.

When Adelaide was first established in 1836 some of the colonists learnt the local Kaurna language. Two German missionaries, Clamor Schürmann and Christian Teichelmann, documented the language: they learnt it, and published a grammar and vocabulary. In 1839 they opened a school at Piltawodli to teach the language, and they also translated parts of the Bible and other religious texts into Kaurna. In 1844 the Governor of the colony, George Grey, closed the school and banned the missionaries from preaching in Kaurna.

English became the sole language of the colony and Kaurna had died out as a community language by the 1860s. The person said to be last native speaker of Kaurna, Ivaritji, died in 1929.

Since 1990 efforts have been made to revive Kaurna using documentation compiled by two German missionaries. A small group based at the University of Adelaide that includes Kaurna people, teachers, linguists and other researches is working on this. The language was introduced in one school in 1992, and is now taught at all levels of education, including a Kaurna linguistics course at the University of Adelaide.

Kaurna alphabet and pronunciation

Kaurna alphabet and pronunciation

Download a chart of the Kaurna alphabet and pronunciation (PDF, in German)

Information about Kaurna pronunciation complied by Wolfram Siegel


Information about the Kaurna language and people

Kaurna language learning series

Turkic languages

Other languages written with the Cyrillic alphabet

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