28 August 2010

NYUNGAR Words: bila—east and west, NSW and WA

There are some transcontinental words, and bila is one of them. It means 'stream'.

The following are from the Wiradhuri language, across the Blue Mountains from Sydney, stretching from Bathurst effectively to the Victorian border. It is the largest language area in New South Wales, and possibly the country.

"Billa" bila = "a river" stream: Günther WIRA (Fraser) [73:49] [WIRA]

"Beelah" bila = "a creek" stream: SofM 1896 09 12 [p.12.1: DDB-WIRA] [12.1:7] [WIRA]

"Billugh" bila = "River" stream: SofM 1899 10 21 [Kable/Coe] [154.2:2] [WIRA?]

"Billa" bila = "River" stream: SofM 1900 05 21 [Tibbetts] [63:179] [WIRA]

Gunther was one of the principal recorders of the Wiradhuri language. 'SofM' refers to the anthropological journal, Science of Man.

Variations of the Wiradhuri word for 'stream' follow.

"[Billaga ngunningura]" bilaga = "[the other side of the creek]" stream: Mathews WIRA 1904 [290:21.1] [WIRA]

"[Nilla ware maganne billaga]" bilaga = "[he was drowned in the river.]" stream in: Günther WIRA (Fraser) [114:2.3] [WIRA]

"[wimbu guyabu billaga warranna.]" bilaga = "[the fire, and the fish which are in the river;.]" stream in: Günther WIRA (Fraser) [117:24.3] [WIRA]

"Billabong" bilabang = "a side creek" ox-bow lake: SofM 1896 09 12 [JJB WIRA] [12.2:41] [WIRA]

"Billabong" bilabang = "Creek" stream: SofM 1896 08 10 [JM WIRA] [12.32:6] [WIRA]

"Billabang" bilabang = "the Milky Way" Milky Way: Günther WIRA (Fraser) [73:50] [WIRA]

It is interesting to note that the Milky Way was perceived as a 'river' in the sky.

It is even more interesting to note that the very same word for 'stream' was used in the south-west corner of the continent, about four thousand kilometres distant.


The following are Nyungar records for 'stream', first bil and then bila:

"beel" bil = "river, a" stream: [4 (b)] Grey [:362:2] [Minang]

"beil" bil = "river" stream: [11] Hassell AA 1894 [?] [:361:46] [NYUNGAR]

"be-lo" bila = "river, a; a stream" stream: [4] Grey 1840 [:362:5] [NYUNGAR]

"bi-lo" bila = "river, a" stream: [5] Symmons 1841 [:362:3] [Wajuk]

"Bilo" bila = "A stream; a river. No names are given to rivers as proper names, but the localities and resting-places on their banks are designated with great minuteness. ...." stream: Moore 1842 [:11:15] [NYUNGAR]

"bilo" bila = "river, a" stream: [6] Brady 1845 [:362:4] [NYUNGAR]

"billo" bila = "river; stream" stream: [8 (E)] Salvado [:362:8] [Balardung]

"Bila" bila = "river" stream: Bates Grammar [:82:10] [NYUNGAR]

"bee-la" bila = "river" stream: [19] Isaacs 1949 [:361:48] [NYUNGAR]

"beeler" bilir = "river" stream: [24] Hassell, Edney [:361:39] [NYUNGAR]

"pillyi" bilyi = "river" stream: [13] Rae 1913 [:361:40] [NYUNGAR]

There is also a record for bilabang, However, in the west the meaning is a little different:

"Bilorbang" bilabang = "A person living on the banks of a river." stream dweller: Moore 1842 [:12:2] [NYUNGAR]

Two other meanings associated with water and derived from the stem bila are the following:

"beelagur" bilagur = "river people" stream people: [12] Bates 1913 [:362:12] [NYUNGAR]

"beladger" biladyir = "drown" drown: [23] Buller-Murphy [:258:52] [Dordenup [Wardandi]]

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