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]

"g√£rrab" 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'.

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