Category: indigenous


Ngarigo and Ngunnawal word lists

June 25th, 2014 — 1:38pm

I find it is impossible not to feel a huge sense of loss when seeing how fragmentary are the records of Aboriginal languages from South East Australia. Even today Aboriginal languages are still slipping away very rapidly. Why is this not seen as a cultural emergency? Why has the task always fallen on so few people to rescue Aboriginal languages from oblivion?

I was having trouble finding a Ngarigo word list on the internet so have transcribed the one out of “Victorian Languages a Late Survey”* by LA Hercus, and put it beside the Ngunnawal word list that is in RH Mathews’ work The Wiradyuri and Other Languages of New South Wales for purposes of comparison. The languages are usually said to be quite similar, although there is still plenty of difference between them.

A language is the ultimate poem, developed by its speakers over centuries, with a thousand intimate connections to the landscape and culture which it reflects. These few words are nearly all that is left from the first great work of literature, the original poem, which was created by the Ngarigo and Ngunnawal people of the Canberra region and the high country of NSW and Victoria.

nb. I have replaced “ng” with “ŋ” in the Mathews list. An excel version of this table is here: Languages – Ngarigo and Ngunnawal.

English Ngunnawal Ngarigo
 
PEOPLE
 
A man murrin marinj
Husband ma-uŋ 
Clever man / doctor muyuluŋ  budira
Youth warrumbul 
Boy bubal  burubal
Elder brother dyiddyaŋ djidjaŋ
Younger brother gugan  duŋan
Elder sister dhadduŋ  ŋaman
Younger sister gulwan  galan
A woman bullan  balan
Wife man 
Girl mullaŋan  malaŋan
Child (neuter) gudha  wanj
Children gudhaiar
Father bubaŋ
Mother ŋadjan
Wild man/killer dulugal
Bearded man djira-wadj
Old man djiriban
Policeman/octopus djuŋa
Policeman gandjawan
Uncle ganj
Uncle/elderly relative njinjan
Chinaman guda/wurundibug
Aunt gudaŋ
Clever man/poisoner gunamundanj
Old woman gwandidj
Cousin landjagan
Bad woman murili
Bad man, a larrakin murudalinj
Deaf/obstinate person njarala-muga
Grandfather ŋabuŋ
Maternal grandmother & her sisters ŋagun
White boy wadjbaga
White man wadjbala
White woman wadjimin
Legendary little hairy people who lived in the mountains waligada
Young boy/teenager yaŋai
 
THE HUMAN BODY
 
Head guddagaŋ  gadagan
Hair of head dherruŋ  yaruŋ
Face mragin
Eye(s) migalaity  gundul
Nose nyigity  guŋ
Back of neck nhun 
neck biŋil
Throat guddity  dulidj
Ear(s) guri  djandjuŋ
Mouth dhambir  munda
Teeth yerra  njandug
Breast, female ŋumminyaŋ  miŋgun
Navel nyurra 
Belly bindhi 
Back beŋal 
Arm nhuruŋ 
Hand murraŋga 
Fingers yulu 
Finger-nails birril 
Thigh dhurra 
Knee ŋumuŋ 
Foot dyunna  djinaŋ
Heart gauar 
Blood dyiŋgi 
Fat bewan  bri
Bone wiak 
Penis dhun 
Testicles gurra 
Pubic Hair buruwarri 
Semen buruŋ 
Vulva binnan 
Anus dhula 
Excrement gunuŋ  gunuŋ
Urine dyuŋur  djuŋur
Venereal middyuŋ
Saliva/snot garuŋ
 
INANIMATE NATURE
 
Sun winyu  djaua
Moon kubbadaŋ  buriga
Stars dyurra 
Pleiades dyin-diŋ-gaŋ 
Clouds gurraŋ 
Sky mindyigari 
Thunder muruŋul  miribi
Lightning meup-meup  malub
Rain garrit  bana
Downpour/thunderstorm bulburai
Dew dyiŋidyirraŋ 
Frost dhugguru 
Water ŋadyuŋ  bubul/ŋadjuŋ
Waterhole bandria
Creek manaŋ
Running water, stream djuraŋ
Ground dhaura  biman
Dust dhuŋul 
Mud muruŋ 
Stone gurbuŋ  gurubuŋ
Magic stones gurugulaŋ
Sand dyardyar 
Charcoal murruŋga  dala
Ashes brinj
Light dhurrawaŋ 
Darkness buranya 
Heat gunnama 
Cold gurrita 
Dawn birrimbigaŋ 
East wind bulyaŋgaŋ 
West wind guraguma 
Whirlwind wiŋguraminya 
Pipeclay gubbity 
Red ochre gubur 
Fire kanbi  djigun/wada
Smoke muril  dumbug
Food, flesh ŋulli 
Food, vegetable dyaraban 
Flowers gamburra 
Day bural 
Night kagu 
Dusk dyirraŋgan 
Grass gurwai  nalug
Leaves dyirraŋ  gundigan
Eggs kubbugaŋ 
Egg gaban
Honey kauaŋgal  gwaŋgal
A liar kwigarak  djad-bulug
Pathway mura 
Camp ŋuru  gundji
Shadow of tree kumburu 
Shadow of man buak 
Summer winyuwaŋga 
Winter magarawaŋga
Bark of a tree dwad-dwad
Yesterday djiri-djiridj
Wood/sticks galbgal/wada
Snow gunuma
Poison gurigan
Money gurubuŋ
Kindling njari-njaran
Strong drink ŋadjuŋ
Evil magic ŋarib
Cadaver, dead thing yurugadj
 
MAMMALS
 
Koala gurabun or gula  dandial/ŋuraga
Dog mirri  mirigan
Possum wille wadjan
Kangaroo rat balbu  dambuluŋ
Kangaroo rat (bettong) djimuŋ
Native cat murugun  bindjuluŋ
Bandicoot mundawari  manjug
Small rat gunnimaŋ  bugila
Rock wallaby burrai 
Echidna burugun  gauaŋ / gauwatj
Kangaroo buru  ganjgruŋ
Platypus maluŋgaŋ  djamalaŋ
Flying squirrel baŋgu 
Ringtail opossum dyindan 
Bat ŋuddya-ŋuddyan
Wombat baŋadan/migundan
Rabbit bud
Water rat bud-bud
Sheep / jumbuck djambug
Horse yaraman
 
BIRDS
 
Birds, collectively budyan  budjan
Crow wagulan 
Kookaburra guginyal  guginjala
Curlew warabin 
Swan dyinyuk  gunjug
Eaglehawk mulleun 
Common magpie karrugaŋ 
Currawong dyirrigaŋ  djaruŋ-djaruŋ
Mopoke yuyu  gub-gug
Night owl binit-binit 
Rosella parrot bunduluk 
Common hawk walga 
Kingfisher diktigaŋ 
Peewee giliruk 
Plover bindirradirrik 
Crane galu  nilaŋgan
Pheasant dyagula 
Black cockatoo, small gaŋ-gaŋ 
Black cockatoo, large wamburuŋ 
Bower-bird dyara
Grey thrush djimaŋal
Tawny frogmouth djunuwidj
Wading bird — long legs djuruwidj
Black tailed waterhen gulburi
Mail bird (mythical) gurubulaŋ
Willy wagtail liga-ligal
 
FISHES
 
Perch dhinŋur 
Herring berrumbunnuŋ 
Eel yumba  galgun
Gudgeon budaŋ 
Black-fish wuggar mandja
 
REPTILES
 
Water iguana dhurrawarri 
Frog dyirrigurat 
River lizard biddyiwaŋ 
Tree goanna wirria  budalag
Sleepy lizard muggadhaŋ 
Small lizard bunburuŋ  djiralgal
Death adder muddyawit 
Turtle gudamaŋ 
Carpet snake wagur  djidjigan
Any snake mugga 
Brown snake wuruŋal  djuganj
Black snake dyirrabity 
Tiger snake berragundhaŋ 
Jew lizard nurruŋ 
Tree snake mulundyuluŋ
large lizard banburaŋ
 
INVERTEBRATES
 
Locust, large gulaŋulan 
Locust, small dyirribrit 
Mother louse guŋgal  ninj
head louse gadji
Nit of louse dyandiŋ 
Young lice maiadi 
House fly meŋa 
Bulldog ant bulbul 
Jumper ant dyambity 
Ant munduin
Maggot dhurraunda 
Centipede gururigaŋ 
Mussel bindugan
magic/multicoloured beetles ganina
Grubs, collectively (edible?) gauin  graŋ
Grubs, gum tree burruŋ 
Grub, river oak dyiguŋ 
Grub of the bogong moth mumugandi
Spider mara
 
TREES AND PLANTS
 
Any tree ŋulla 
Ti-tree mudda 
Wattle nummerak  gabira
Wattle – longifolia marigal
Pine buggumbul 
Oak dulwa 
Cherry-tree mummadya 
Gum-tree yerradhaŋ 
Yellow-box bargaŋ 
Honeysuckle dhulwa 
Ironbark thirriwirri 
Stringybark burin 
Bulrushes gummiuk gamjag
Reeds yarunga
White gum (e viminalis? rossii?) balug
Black salee (e stelulata) buguga
Candlebark (e rubida) djua
Snow gum waraganj
 
WEAPONS, UTENSILS, ETC
 
Tomahawk   mundubaŋ ŋambaranj
Koolamin guŋun 
Yamstick gaualaŋ 
Spear dyuin 
Spear lever womur 
Spear shield bimbiaŋ 
Waddy shield murga  ŋamal
Fighting club kudyeru 
Hunting club bundi 
Boomerang berrà 
Net bag goan  badjuŋ
Canoe mundaŋ 
Headband gamban 
Kilt burran
Blanket bandja
Boots, shoes, boot-prints bandjiwan
Clothes bidja
Tea/tealeaves buŋa
Unsweetened tea gurug
Potatoes burudan
Trousers danda
Bread daŋan
Hat dambanj
Sugar dugun
Small flat bark dish ŋaḍu
Meat ŋali
Yam dharaban  njamaŋ
 
ADJECTIVES
 
Alive mulaŋgari 
Dead burrakbaŋ  birug
Spirit birugbanj
Ghost mugan
Large buggarabaug 
Small nyerriguraŋ 
Tall or long bamir 
Big ŋuyuŋ / yaram
Low or short guŋur 
Good yedduŋ  yalaganj
Bad gudba  danaŋ
Red dhirrum dhirrum 
White duggurugurak  wadj?
Black buru-bura 
Mad gauaŋ 
Crazy yugi-yugaŋ 
Stubborn wambaruŋ  gadjaran
Valiant gurumbul 
Quick burrai 
Slow gunyan 
Strong yurwaŋ 
Afraid dyaui-dyauty 
Tired yurrity 
Sharp midyir-midyir 
Fat bewanbaŋ  bubulug
Lean / skinny ŋauatyba  garibal
Hot winyudha  ŋulma
Cold gurrit 
Angry yugo 
Sleepy guŋ-guŋ 
Glad waddhir 
Sorry ŋaralda 
Greedy merradhin 
Sick ger  bubil
Stinking buguŋ  buyuwa
Rotten ŋulu-ŋulug
Much guruŋ 
Little muiŋgaŋ  mumuŋ
Pregnant maliŋilimaŋ  bugmin
True gundyaina
Deaf barariŋ
Empty biman
Ugly bimbila/ŋaljan
Cheeky/bold biŋgidj/nurinj
Sticky bragbag
Dirty bridj-bridj/djiriridj/maḍaŋ-maḍaŋ
Dirty, covered in earth dinadj
Nice/beautiful damaradj
Very dura
Disobedient/fidgety buḍun-buḍun
Happy/flash djarimiŋ
Useless/silly/stupid guniriŋ
Idiot waŋan
Hungry njaban
 
VERBS
 
Die berak 
Eat dhaimbaliri  dambli
Drink wimbaliri  gulug
Sleep ŋambori  gabug
Stand dharri-iri 
Sit /stay ŋulla-iri  ŋalag
Talk dhuniai  bala-bala
Tell dhuniuŋ 
Walk yerrabi 
Run munni 
Bring munnagali 
Take mali  maŋgai
Make buŋi 
Break mudyat 
Chastise millai 
Beat ŋubi  darag-ŋambi
Arise badyi 
Fall down buggali 
See naŋi 
Look naii  dununag
stare dununalug
Hear ŋurrambai 
Listen waŋgirrali  njarala
Give yuŋgi 
Cook dyandai 
Steal gurraŋi  maŋgai
Request dyuŋgadyai 
Sing yuŋgaballi 
Weep, cry nyimali  gambawali
Blow, with breath bumbi 
Blow, as wind bunima 
Climb bui-i 
Conceal buddai 
Jump dyutbi  bib-bib
Laugh birrigai 
Scratch birradilli 
Tear buŋgur 
Forget walagi 
Do   buŋi
Send   iddyi
Suck bindi 
Swim yerra 
Fly yerra 
Bathe ŋaugi 
Search for gadi 
Spit dyugai 
Smell billai 
Bite burri  ŋaŋ
Play woggabaliri 
Touch or catch muŋga-iri 
Throw / pelt yerrambi  dug
Hit/ wound darag-ŋambi / dilginj
Spear/stab djug
Pitch wadhi 
Whistle windi 
Pretend kwigai 
Vomit garrugi  duruduradj
Dance wagi 
Dive burugi  djurug
Sting dyandi 
Hunt gadali 
To scent, as a dog gundali 
Drive dhurali 
Go /to go yerrabi  yarabi
Come munnagai 
Burn gunnami 
Chop gudbaiiri 
Feel burraŋiri
Sexual desire burundunnuŋ 
Copulation yaŋiliri 
Masturbation natymiliri 
splash dubul
roll one’s eyes djuŋgul
kill with magic stones gagari
kill with evil magic ŋaribi
to ‘sing’ someone gurugulaŋ
to keep quiet garug
to dream garawaŋa
to dribble njalanj
to fidget/move around ŋadjalanj
 
PHRASES
 
“come here” burbiyaliga
“you are staring at me” dununalugin
“hey” gugai
“shame”/”hey” guin
“you’ve got no shame” guin muga
“yes, alright” guli-gulaba
“someone is watching you” gundul-bidjali
“I’m going to hit this silly looking thing” [I’ll] dilginj waŋan guniriŋ
“no” not (negative adv and particle) muga
up, upwards njalaŋ
down, downwards njuluŋ
“whereabouts?” wirigara
“good job” wur
“look out!” yabiyaliga
 
PROPER NOUNS
 
name of mtn between delegate & orbost Guŋgura
a valley near Delegate (means ghost?) Mugan
tribe to south of Ngarigo, between Eden and Orbost Biḍawal
a sub tribe of the Biḍawal Daŋgiai
a female name Gunal

*Just the title “Victorian Languages” of this book speaks of the riches of the cultural tapestry which existed, and the nearly complete disjunction of this from what is the modern state of Victoria. The lateness of the survey is all too evident from the small number of natural speakers who were still alive when it was assembled in the 1960s. There are stories here of final speakers who died only days before contact with language researchers.

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I love the Aboriginal Tent Embassy

January 27th, 2012 — 6:47am

The Australian media somehow isn’t seeing the true significance of yesterday’s skirmish outside The Lobby restaurant following Tony Abott’s ignorant comments about the significance of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra. I unfortunately have no real connections to the Aboriginal community here. But only last year on a cool autumn morning I was walking through the rose gardens, when I caught a whisper of smoke on the air from a campfire burning over in front of old parliament house. It reminded me of the bush, it reminded me of the Australia that exists beyond the monoliths of the parliamentary triangle, that existed on this spot for millenia, and I was immensely grateful for it then.

It is terrible that there can be no recognition among people like Tony Abbott of the importance of the ongoing protest that has been occuring at this spot. It is symbolic of the whole state of affairs that still exists with the role of Aboriginal people in Australia. I thought last Autumn – why don’t Aboriginal people have a permanent home here in Canberra, why do they have to keep on with this temporary place? But perhaps by asking that question I am shewing how out of touch I am with the heart of the issues. Whatever the solution is, I hope that it does not put out the fires that drift their aromatic smoke among the rosebushes on the lawns of parliament. It seems to be the only signature of humane occupation that exists in Canberra.

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