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'?

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