30 July 2010

NYUNGAR Words: manga connections

What can 'nest', 'barb', 'spear', 'leaf', 'hair' and 'shoulder' have to do with one another? They all appear to be linked through 'manga / munga'.

The basic idea appears to be 'strand', 'thread'.


A nest is composed of many strands:

"munga" manga = "a nest" nest: [4] Grey 1840 [:120:45] [NYUNGAR]

"Mân-ga" manGa = "Bird, (nest of)" nest: Symmons, Charles [:7:55] [NYUNGAR]


Grey, below, links 'barb' and 'hair'. A barb is a single point, and a hair a single strand.

"mun-gar" munGa = "barb, a; hair" barb: [4] Grey 1840 [:210:11] [NYUNGAR]

"Man-gar" manGa = "Barb of a spear ..." barb: Moore 1842 [:68:21] [NYUNGAR]


Whether Hassell below was correct or not in stating 'munga' meant a type of 'spear' is not known. The reference could have been to 'barb', a feature of the spear concerned:

"mungar" munga = "hunting spears" spear: [11] Hassell AA 1894 [?] [:293:36] [NYUNGAR]

"mungay" manga = "fishing spears" spear: [11] Hassell AA 1894 [?] [::] [NYUNGAR]

Salvado defines 'reed spear': 'gidyi' is a common word for 'spear'; and 'reed' is yet another 'strand'.

"mangarghichi" manga gidyi = "spear, reed" barb spear: [8] Salvado 1851 [:388:45] [NYUNGAR]


Symmons in describing fig leaves uses 'leaf' ('manga") with a plural marker: '-ra':

"Mân-ga-ra" manGara = "Hottentot fig (leaves of)" leaf: Symmons, Charles [:7:29] [NYUNGAR]


The following examples indicate that 'manga' also stood for hair. 'gada' means 'head:

"munga" munga = "hair" hair: [23] Buller-Murphy [:279:43] [Dordenup [Wardandi]]

"mungar" munga = "hair of the head" hair: [10 (n)] Curr [:280:23] [Kaniyang]

"karta munga" gada manga = "hair (on head)" hair: [23] Buller-Murphy [:280:5] [Dordenup [Wardandi]]

"katta mangara" gada mangara = "hair of the head" hair: [6] Brady 1845 [:280:11] [NYUNGAR]


This last example would suggest that the wordlist compilers might have erred. 'Hair' might have reached the 'shoulder', giving rise to misunderstanding. But who is to say now whether they were right or wrong?

"monga" manga = "shoulder" shoulder: [3] Lyon 1833 [:375:28] [NYUNGAR]

"mongo" manga = "shoulder" shoulder: [8 (E)] Salvado [:375:29] [Balardung]

29 July 2010

NYUNGAR Words: windu: old

It often happens that a word appears in a list, with alongside it a simple translation, such as ‘windu’: ‘old’

"Win-do" windu = "Old" decrepit: Symmons, Charles [:10:31] [NYUNGAR]

"windo" windu = "man, an old" decrepit: [5] Symmons 1841 [:319:48] [Wajuk]

There being several additional examples in the wordlists of ‘windu’, an idea emerges that ‘windu’ is not so much ‘old’ as a characteristic of ageing — ‘bad’, ‘thin’, ‘useless’ or ‘worn out’:

"win-do" windu = "old; useless; worn out" decrepit: [4] Grey 1840 [:339:46] [NYUNGAR]

"windo" windu = "bad" bad: [9] Moore 1884 [:208:7] [NYUNGAR]

"uindo" windu = "thin" thin: [8 (N)] Salvado [:410:16] [Balardung]

"windo" windu = "useless" decrepit: [6] Brady 1845 [: 427:46] [NYUNGAR]

"windo" windu = "worn out" decrepit: [9] Moore 1884 [: 447:21] [NYUNGAR]

Investigation of the root ‘win’ yields additional insights:

"bal wenat" bal winad = "He is dead (he dead)" he dead: Bates Grammar [:71:23] [Wajuk]

"bal wenin" bal winin = "he is dead" he dead: [14 (n)] Bates [:284:12] [Kaniyang]

In the above examples, ’win’ is about ‘death’‘

bal is the pronoun ‘he’, ‘him’, while ‘-ad’ is a suffix attached to nouns, and ‘-in’ is another often attached to verbs.

Another example confirms the ‘death’ connotation:

"Winatding" winading = "(N. E. dialect.) Dead; derived from or connected in some way with Wynaga, dead." dead: Moore 1842 [:106:8] [NYUNGAR]

Moore indicated in numerous other instances that the suffix -aga is the past tense marker. Two of these follow:

"Bimban" bimban = "Pres. part., Bimbanwin, or Bimbanan; past tense, Bimban-agga. To kiss." kiss: Moore 1842 [:12:9] [NYUNGAR]

"Yilbin" yilbin = "Pres. part., Yilbinin; past tense, Yilbinagga, To glance off; to graze." graze: Moore 1842 [:113:18] [NYUNGAR]

Consequently ‘ wanaga’ may be taken to mean ‘die did’ (did die, died):

"Wynaga" wanaga = "...dead.]" die did: Moore 1842 [:106:8.1] [NYUNGAR]

The root ‘win’ now appears to be ‘wan’. The following suggest it might be the same with an altered sound or spelling:

"wain" wan = "die" die: [11] Hassell AA 1894 [?] [:254:15] [NYUNGAR]

"wanign" wanan = "fear; fright; terror" fear: [23] Buller-Murphy [:171:46] [NYUNGAR]

"waininger" waningir = "coward" coward: [23] Buller-Murphy [:245:1] [Dordenup [Wardandi]]

"wanni" wani = "die, to" die: [6] Brady 1845 [:254:21] [NYUNGAR]

"waining" waning = "dead" dead: [10 (r)] Curr [:252:15] [Balardung]

"waining" waning = "thirsty" thirsty: [10 (p)] Curr [: 411:9] [Kaniyang]

So far all the associations with ‘win’, ‘wan’ have been negative. In the above examples, ‘die’, ‘fear’, ‘coward’ and ‘thirsty’,are all negative, the last perhaps representing ‘dying of thirst’.

In the next example the expression ‘wan yurdu’ continues the negative outlook. Its literal translation might be ‘bad forehead' rather than the ‘indisposed’ Moore has offered:

"Wan-yur-du" wan yurdu = "Indisposed." ill: Moore 1842 [:100:14] [NYUNGAR]

"yoordo" yurdu = "forehead" forehead: [3] Lyon 1833 [:268:52] [NYUNGAR]

"yurdo" yurdu = "forehead, the" forehead: [6] Brady 1845 [:269:2] [NYUNGAR]

However, ‘wan’ does not always have negative connotations:

"won-gin" wangin = "living; green - when applied to wood, leaves" green: [4] Grey 1840 [:313:31] [NYUNGAR]

"wang-en" wangin = "well" healthy: [6] Brady 1845 [: 435:34] [NYUNGAR]

"wanjin" wandyin = "sound" sound: [23] Buller-Murphy [:387:20] [Dordenup [Wardandi]]

‘sound’ in the last example, would appear to have the meaning opposite to ‘rotten’. The last example, spelt ‘wanjin’ raises the recurring problem of how to transcribe ‘g’ of the wordlist compilers, notably in the two preceding examples, as in ‘gift’ and ‘gibbon’ —or sounding as ‘j’ as in ‘gist’? and ‘giblet’?

In summary, the root ‘win/wan’ seems to have the connotation of ‘languish’, different suffixes elaborating on the meanings. In the case of the suffix ‘gin/dyin’, it appears to have the opposite connotation: ‘flourish’.

28 July 2010

NYUNGAR Words: gur / garu: 'again', 'more'

A large number of Nyungar words end in -gur but no common thread jumps out to suggest a meaning.

'gur' also occurs on its own, as does the similar 'garu':

"garoo" garu = "more, (beeliar)" more: [3] Lyon 1833 [:325:42] [NYUNGAR]

"kar-ro" garu = "again; more" again: [4] Grey 1840 [:199:41] [NYUNGAR]

"kor, kor" gur = "Again" again: Bates Grammar [:75:8] [NYUNGAR]

"Garro" garu = "Again; then." again: Moore 1842 [:40:11] [NYUNGAR]

The meanings are 'again', and 'more', conveying a repetitive idea. Bates provided examples:

"benan kor jinan" binan gur dyinan = "tomorrow morning you will see me again" tomorrow again see: [14 (t) (v)] Bates [: 418:30] [Wajuk]

"ŋanya kor yenaga" nganya gur yinaga = "I went again" I again go did: Bates Grammar [:74:26] [NYUNGAR]

and Buller-Murphy noted a persisting difficulty with flies — 'fly again':

"nooduck koran" nudag guran = "again" fly again: [23] Buller-Murphy [:199:38] [Dordenup [Wardandi]]


However, what makes the word especially interesting is its link, or coincidence, with the Sydney language ('Biyal Biyal, or BB):

"Gore gore" gura gura = "More more" more: Dawes (b) [b:8:8] [BB]

"Go-ray" gura = "More" more: Anon (c) [c:17:9] [BB]

"Curra" gura = "More" more: Southwell [148.1:19] [BB]

The surveyor Mathews, who recorded many languages, noted a Darkinyung use, just to the northward of Sydney

"gurai" gurai = "Several" several: Mathews DARK 1903 [274:33.3] [Dark]

William Dawes, the first and greatest recorder of the Sydney language, seemed pleased to note that 'gur' more or less rhymed with its English counterpart 'more':

"[Wéaling white man gore?]" gura = "[What does white man say for ‘gore’? Answer: More.]" more: Dawes (b) [b:26:7.3] [BB]

and he provided another sentence example, recording a moment when his young informant sought warmth in front of a winter fire, naked, before putting on the clothes he had provided:

"Goredyú tágarin" guradyu dagarin = "I more it (that is I take more of it) from cold ..." more I cold from: Dawes (b) [b:28:1.1] [BB]

Still further examples establish 'gur' and its variants as meaning 'more', 'again', in Sydney:

"Wålumibámi góre badyü´lgo" walumibami gura badyalgu = "When will you be sick again" when thou more ill-towards: Dawes (b) [b:26:5.1] [BB]

"“Curra-Bar-do”" gura badu = "More water" more water: Southwell [148.1:20] [BB]

"Brúwi kar˙adyuwi ngábüng" buruwi garadyuwi ngabang = "(All) three have large breasts—that is: They are all three women grown" three increase did they-all breast: Dawes (b) [b:35:3] [BB]

A particular puzzle remains — 'did-yer-re-goor':

"Did-yer-re-goor" diyi dyiri gur = "Enough or I am satisfied" enough: Anon (c) [c:17:10] [BB]

"Didgerry-goor" diyi dyiri gur = "Only a little bit more" enough: Anon (c) [c:19:7.1] [BB]

"Did-yerre-goor" diyi dyiri gur = "No more" enough: Anon (c) [c:11:2] [BB]

"Didgerry-goor" didyiri gur = "I thank you" enough: King MS [402:20] [BB]

"Didgerry-goor Wogul Banne" didyiri gur wagal bani = "I thank you for one bit" enough, one-lacking: King MS [402:21] [BB]

This expression was recorded several times, with estimates as to its meaning. These boil down to the idea of 'enough'. But what were the component parts of the 'enough' concept?

The difficulties for 'did-yer-re-goor' are:
—it is not known how properly to transcribe it, and two versions are given in the above examples;
—it is not known what 'dyiri' might mean;
—did the opening syllable stand for 'diyi', meaning 'this'?
—could 'dyiri' have been the 'proprietive' suffix: 'having'? It is not unlike the equivalents in the NSW language names 'Wira-dhuri' and 'Kamil-arai' — 'wira'-having, 'gamil'-having, 'wira' and 'gamil' being the words for 'no' in those languages, a distinctive word (often 'no') being a common way of naming a language. (While the complementary 'privative' or 'lacking' suffix was clear in BB ('-buni'), the 'having' form was not indicated in any of the wordlists.)

Australian indigenous languages did not have the politeness terms ('good morning', 'please', 'thank you', 'how do you do?' of English and European languages) but for modern day purposes such terms are sought for. 'did-yer-re-goor' has been adopted by some in Sydney for 'thank you', but that is not what it meant.

Could the literal translation possibly have been 'this-having more'?

26 July 2010

NYUNGAR Words: through / pierce / intend

On p. 283 of A Nyoongar Wordlist from the Southwest of Western Australia (Bindon and Chadwick, 1992) there is an entry of which the following is an adaptation:

"gur-rab-a-ra" gurabara = "[(wangurt yugow) having pierced through]" hole: [4] Grey 1840 [:283:21.1] [NYUNGAR]

This entry started off a trail of enquiry in which the following played a part:

—gurubara: hole

—wangurd: ???

—yugawu: stand






"gur-rab" gurab = "hole, a; a hollow place" hole: [4] Grey 1840 [:290:35] [NYUNGAR]

"ka-ri-pa" gariba = "cave (or hole of any sort)" cave:[19] Isaacs 1949 [:233:30] [NYUNGAR]

"gãrrab" garab = "hole [cave; hollow]" hole: [9] Moore 1884 [:290:29] [NYUNGAR]

"karup" garab = "nostrils" hole: [3] Lyon 1833 [:337:20] [NYUNGAR]

"gur-rab" gurab = "hole, a; a hollow place" hole: [4] Grey 1840 [:290:35] [NYUNGAR]

From the above it seems clear that 'garab' and like forms convey the idea of 'hole'. And from the following it seems there may be the possibility of a suffix denoting plurality:

"Garrabara" garabara = "Full of holes; pierced with holes." hole: Moore 1842 [:40:4] [NYUNGAR]

"gur-rab-a-ra" gurabara = "[(wangurt yugow) having pierced through]" hole: [4] Grey 1840 [:283:21.1] [NYUNGAR]

yugawu: stand

According to Moore, 'yugawu' means roughly 'stand':

"Yugow" yugawu = "...To be; to stand; to exist." stand: Moore 1842 [:114:24] [NYUNGAR]

"yugow" yugawu = "stand, to" stand: [9] Moore 1884 [:392:13] [NYUNGAR]

It is used in combinations such as the following:

"ira-yugow" yira yugawu = "stand up, to" high stand: [6] Brady 1845 [:392:18] [NYUNGAR]

"Gurdubakkan-yugow" gurdu bagan yugawu = "To want; as Ngadjo marynak gurdu bakkanyugowin, I want flour or food." want [heart hurt stand]: Moore 1842 [:45:13] [NYUNGAR]

"Kobbalobakkan-yugow" gabalu bagan yugawu = "To want. To hunger for a thing." want [belly hurt stand]: Moore 1842 [:58:20] [NYUNGAR]

"yu-gow-murrijo" yugawu muridyu = "run, to; (literally) stand & go" stand move: [4] Grey 1840 [:365:25] [NYUNGAR]

And in the present example, there is 'wangurd yugawu' indicated in the first example as meaning 'having pierced through'.


Consider first the possibilities of 'pierce', and then 'through'.

"dtan" dan = "pierce, to; penetrate; make an opening" pierce: [4] Grey 1840 [:349:24] [NYUNGAR]

"Dtan" dan = "pierce" pierce: Symmons, Charles [:16:36] [NYUNGAR]

"Dtan" dan = "Penetrate, to" pierce: Moore 1842 [:150:32] [NYUNGAR]

"dorn" durn = "pierce" pierce: [24] Hassell, Edney [:349:20] [NYUNGAR]

"dorn" durn = "pierce" pierce: [23] Buller-Murphy [:349:21] [Dordenup [Wardandi]]

These records suggest 'dan' as a probability for 'pierce' rather than 'wangurd'.


Could 'wangurd/wagurd/wagad' mean 'through'?

"wau-gurt" wagurd = "through; pierced through" through pierce [?]: [4] Grey 1840 [: 413:35] [NYUNGAR]

"wau-gurt" wagurd = "pierced through" through pierce [?]: [6] Brady 1845 [:349:27] [NYUNGAR]

"wau-gart" wagad = "through; pierced through" pierce: [9] Moore 1884 [: 413:34] [NYUNGAR]

"Waugard dtan" wagad dan = "To pierce through." through pierce [?]: Moore 1842 [:103:8] [NYUNGAR]

As Australian indigenous languages use suffixes for meanings in place of the prepositions of English, and as 'wangurd/wagad' is not a suffix, and as 'through' is a preposition, then what is 'wangurd/wagurd/wagad'?


Moore offers a suggestion of 'intention' in the following:

"Ordak" wurdag = "A particle affixed to verbs, signifying to intend; to purpose...." intend: Moore 1842 [:94:5] [NYUNGAR]

"Ordakbarrang" wurdag barang = "... to intend to take...: Moore 1842 [:94:5.2] [NYUNGAR]

"Ordak dtan" wurdag dan = "...to intend to pierce." intend pierce: Moore 1842 [:94:5.1] [NYUNGAR]


Two matters remain for clarification:

—'wangurd' or 'wagurd/wagad'

—'wurdag' or 'wagurd/wagad' (intention)

Note that the first record cited in this 'post' is Grey's, of 1840—the earliest of these records:

"wangurt yugow" wangurd yugawu = "(wangurt yugow) having pierced through" pierce: [4] Grey 1840 [:283:21] [NYUNGAR]

Grey uses 'wangurt'. Subsequent wordlists feature "wau-gurd" and variants, including by Grey. It would seem likely that the letter 'n' may have been misread as 'u', and the mistake thereafter compounded by copying (unless Grey's original 'wangurt' were the mistake).

As for 'wurdag' (intention), in the Nyungar languages the phenomenon of inversion occurs, known as 'metathesis', where sounds or syllables within a word are transposed.

'wurdag' displays this feature with respect to 'wagurd'.