Nakkara (now spelt Na-Kara) is a prefixing language of the non-Pama
Nyungan variety spoken in and around the community of Maningrida in the
Northern Territory of Australia. Like many coastal communities, the Na-Kara
tribal area and language group seem always to have been quite small and Na-
Kara is now a highly endangered language.
Moderately polysynthetic, Na-Kara has a number of characteristic structural
features that place it with other central and western Arnhem groupings. The
phonology is relatively straightforward with five vowels; a series of short and
long stop consonants; retroflex and alveolar pairs, a lamino-palatal distinction
and a full set of nasal sounds.
The morphology is rich and intricate springing from a pronoun system that
distinguishes masculine and feminine gender across several number and
person categories where an inclusive/exclusive distinction adds to the mix.
Verbs carry these often complex pronominal prefixes as well as additional
affixes for direction, realis/irrealis, tense and transitivity. Aspect is expressed
by complex verbal predicates. Nouns are relatively unencumbered with
affixes but share some of the load for locational specification.
Demonstrative/deictic forms carry a quasi pronominal load often with three-
way locational and referential distinctions.
With a fairly modest lexicon, many forms in Na-Kara are idiomatic and
descriptive, relying on compounding for semantic extension.