21 September 2010

NSW COAST Words: Calling cooee

Everyone knows the bush call ‘cooee’. Not so many know that it is an Indigenous word, and that it means ‘come’. It was recorded by William Dawes in about April 1791:
"Kaouwi´ Kaouwi´ ..." gawi gawi ... = "Calling to come" come come: Dawes (b) [b:15:1] [BB]
Dawes recorded a Sydney language (‘Biyal Biyal: BB) remark made by the youngster Gunanguli:
"Gon. Mama kaowi ngália bogía" mama GAWI ngaliya bugiya = "My friend, come let us (two) go and bathe" xxx, COME we-two, swim: Dawes (b) [b:28:12] [BB]
In this sentence it is evident the word ‘gawi’ means ‘come’.
Other First Fleeters also recorded the word:
"co-e" gawi = "Come here" come: Collins 1 [:511.2:10.1] [BB]
"Cowe" gawi = "Come here" come: Anon (c) [c:28:16.2] [BB]
"Kouee" gawi = "Come here" come: Paine, Daniel [:41.1:13] [BB]
"Cow-ee" gawi = "To come" come: King in Hunter [:408.1:24] [BB]
Paine and Southwell recorded it in its more recognised spelling, resembling ‘cooee’:
"Kouee" guwi = "Come here" come: Paine, Daniel [:41.1:13] [BB]
"Coo-eé" guwi = "To come" come: Southwell [:148.2:2.1] [BB]
The word might have been ‘guwi’ (cooee), as ‘-gu’ is a widespread suffix (ending) indicating ‘motion towards’ (hence ‘come’), ‘purpose’ and the like.
Dawes recorded a family scene featuring a young infant, and his record demonstrates the ‘purposive’ function of the suffix ‘-gu’:
"Mínyin túnga" minyin dunGa = "Why does she cry?" why cry: Dawes (b) [b:26:3] [BB]
"Ngabángo" ngabanGU = "Answer: For the breast" breast-FOR: Dawes (b) [b:26:4] [BB]
However, the word ‘guwi’ could equally have been ‘gawi’—deriving from ‘gama’, ‘to call’:
"Ka-ma" gama = "Call" call: Anon (c) [c:30:2.2] [BB]
"Cà-ma" gama = "To call" call: King in Hunter [:408.1:5] [BB]
"Ka-mow" gamawu = "Shall I, or must I call" call I: Anon (c) [c:14:2] [BB]
"...Kamabaou ...” gamabawu ... = "...I will call ..." call will I ...: Dawes (b) [b:32:9] [BB]
‘gama’ might be composed of ‘gu’ together with the stem-forming suffix ‘ma’: ‘to do or to make’.
The ‘inland’ and southerly form of the BB ‘gama’ is ‘gamba’ (call):
"kumba" gamba = "shout" call: KAOL Rowley GeoR [DgR] [:107:12] [DgR]
"kumba" gamba = "to shout (coowhee)" call: AL&T Rowley GeoR [DgR] [:261:7.1] [DgR]
The first part of a word can be termed its ‘root’, and ‘ga-’ turns up in words for ‘mouth’ in the Sydney district:
"Keraka" garaga = "Mouth" mouth: Paine, Daniel [:42.2:6] [BB]
"Karraka" garaga = "Mouth" mouth: Bowman: Camden [:16:27] [DG]
"Kar-ga" garaga = "The mouth" mouth: Anon (c) [c:16:3] [BB]
"kar-ga" garaga = "Mouth" mouth: Collins 1 [:508.2:3] [BB]
South of Botany Bay, a word similar to this is used for ‘call’ (or ‘shout’, or ‘croak’, or any sound made by voice):
"kurrugaia" garugaya = "Shout " call did: Mathews KML/Dwl [:279.3:13] [Dwl]
"Karuganbilla" garuganbila = "Shouted again." call—again: KAOL Ridley [DWL story] [:146:6] [Twl]
"gar´-ruk" garug = "a cry" call: Mathews 8006/3/7/ - CRITERION [:45:17.2] [[Dwl?]]
A feature of wildlife is often the sound animals and birds make. It seems hardly a coincidence, then, that a large number of words for birds begin with ‘gara’. A few are:
“gurrigang” garigang = “Hornbill “: Mathews 1903 [280.3:24] [DARK]
“kroomeye” garu-mai = “Duck”: Long Dick [3.1:9.2] [LD]
“karibi gari-bi = “cockatoo”: KAOL Rowley [DgR table] [124:10.6] [BB]
“kurâpul” gurabul = “Common magpie”: Mathews 1903 [280.3:30] [DARK]
“Ca-ratt” garad = “cockatoo, black”: Hunter Sketch Book [117:xx] [BB]
“Goo-reet” gurid = “Red-breasted Parrot”: Painters [12127] [BB]
“Karreet” gari-d = “Scarlet-breasted Flycatcher": Painters [12266] [BB]
So, did Mathews in collecting the word for ‘frog’ correctly interpret his informant’s information, or was he really being told about the noise it was making:
"Koor´-gaty" guragady = "Big Frog" frog: Mathews DGA 1901 [:70.2:8] [DGA]
It is easier to conclude that a cow, unknown to the indigenous people prior to the European upheaval, was being described by its characteristic mooing, or ‘calling’:
"kumbakuluk" gambagalag = "horned cattle" cow: KAOL Rowley GeoR [:104:19] [DgR]

12 September 2010

DHARAWAL Words: Tackling the “unijerunbi minku ?” puzzle

On page 101 of Kamilaroi and Other Languages (KAOL) the following occurs in a list of 21 words or expressions:

The sixth from the bottom is:

What do you want ? unijerunbi minku ?

In attempting to analyse this, especially as the sentence is a question, it is tempting to consider that “minku” is related to common interrogatives beginning ‘mi-’
"Min´gang" minGang = "What" what: Mathews 8006/3/5 -5 [:162:1.2] [Dwl]
"Minyanniba" minyani ba = "what for?" why: Mathews GGA 1901 [:153:13.2] [Gga]
"Min" min = "Why, what for" why: Dawes (b) [b:13:19.1] [BB]
"Minyin" minyin = "Why, what for" why: Dawes (b) [b:13:19.2] [BB]

The next step is to determine what “unijerunbi” might be.

The suffix ‘-bi’ is a common second-person singular Dharawal subject ‘bound’ pronoun (2sgNOM), meaning ‘you’, but which in the databases is rendered ‘thou’ to distinguish it from you-two (2du) and ‘you-all’ (2pl). A bound pronoun is one taking the form of a suffix. There are also freestanding pronouns.

This leaves “unijerun”—which might possibly be trimmed to “unijeru”, in view of the deleted ‘-n-’ being assumed to have attached to ‘-bi’ to form ‘-nbi’ in a process in some languages affecting the consonants ‘b’ and ‘d’, known as prenasalisation. William Dawes had first noted a form of this as it was a phenomenon not present in the harbourside language of Sydney but did occur in the dialect around Parramatta and beyond. Here is his record made on 14 April 1791:

The above extract from Dawes’s Notebook (b) comes from the SOAS internet address cited. The Burubirangal were an ‘inland’ or ‘woods’ clan of the Sydney language group, while the ‘Coasters’ were the people around the harbour. What Dawes was mainly recording in his brief comparative list was not so much the insertion of ‘n’ but the dropping of ‘d’ by the ‘coasters’, in the in all but the fourth and fifth entries.

But to return to the translation conundrum. The next thought is to consider that, in this area of the Australian east coast at least, words do not generally (and possibly never), start with a vowel. So the “unijerunbi” record almost certainly omitted the preceding consonant. This would be because the European recorder either:
—did not detect it;
—or did not know of a suitable means of rendering it with the alphabet of English, and so simply omitted it.
The missing consonant in such not uncommon examples is one of ‘y-’, ‘w-’ or ‘ng-’.

On respelling the record following the conventions adopted throughout the Bayala databases bayaladatabases.blogspot.com mentioned in these blog entries, the possibilities for the word emerge as:

Various searches in the databases were then carried out based on these respelt forms with a view to coming upon something to match the given translation of ‘What do you want ?’ However, the results were disappointing.

But one line of enquiry did emerge. It so happens that much of the relevant parts of Ridley’s KAOL were also published in a journal article ‘Australian Languages and Traditions’ (AL&T). And in that article, for the record concerned, there are two differences:
What do you want ? unijerunbi minku ?
has become:
What do you want, mistress ? unijerunbi munku ?

1. “minku” has become “munku
2. “ mistress” has been added to the translation.

Whether or not these variations are correct new features is almost impossible to assert with confidence, but through the SOUTH database they do open up interpretation possibilities that are consistent with the given AL&T translation. These are now outlined, together with the database supporting information.

First, assume now there are now THREE components to the translation, not two:
—what (i.e. some interrogative)
—you want

This gives rise to the idea that the first word might be ‘ngani’. (See the third respelling option above.) And ngani’ or similar is a form commonly associated with ‘who’, or with interrogatives generally:
"nunnagawu" nganagawu = "who are you (two)?" who—you-two: Mathews GGA 1901 amend [:153:11.204] [Gga]
"[Ngun´-nin-gâ thin-bâ´-lee-min?]" nganinGa = "[who is eating?]" who: M&E: GGA 1900 [:271:3.2] [GGA]
"[Ngun´-nin-gâ ngoo´-rij-jee-bâ mung´-â-rin´-jee-bâ nin gan-bee ?]" nganinGa = "[whom-from gottest-thou that wood ?]" who: M&E: GGA 1900 [:271:7.2] [GGA]

And from the Sydney Language (BB):
"[Ngan widá-lyi teara wü´ra würá]" ngan = "[Who was that drinking tea with you?]" who: Dawes (b) [b:15:2.1] [BB]
"Mi ngâ´ni" mi ngani = "Why, what for" why what for: Dawes (b) [b:13:17] [BB]
"[Mingáni1 bottle2]" mi ngani = "[What is in the1 bottle2]" what: Dawes (b) [b:13:22.1] [BB]

Assume ‘ngani’ is the interrogative part of the sentence. Could ‘dyira’ be ‘want’? And could ‘minGu/munGu’ be ‘mistress’? Well, apparently, quite possibly—yes. ‘dyira’ can be (among other things) ‘speak’, and ‘minGu/munGu’ can be ‘mother’ (similar to mistress).

dyira: speak
"dyirra" dyira = "to tell" speak: Mathews 8006/3/7/ - CRITERION [:20:1.3] [Dwl]
"[Jerra Thurawaldhery. ]" dyira = "[A Thurawal Story.]" speak: KAOL Ridley [DWL story] [:145:12.1] [Twl]
"jerra" dyira = "messenger" speak—messenger: M&E: GGA 1900 [:276:29] [GGA]

minGa / manGa: mother
"Meeng´-a" minga = "Mother" mother: Mathews DGA 1901 [:67.1:13] [DGA]
"miŋa" minga = "mother " mother: KAOL Ridley [TWOFOLD] [:115:13] [Dhurga]
"[unijerunbi munku ?]" manGu = "[what do you want, mistress ? [[sic]]]" mother: AL&T (Ridley) Mrs Malone [DWL] [:263:26.3] [Twl]
"[unijerunbi minku ?]" minGu = "[What do you want ? [[sic]]]" mother: KAOL (Ridley) Mrs Malone [TWL] [:101:16.4] [Twl]

For the translation “ what do you want, mistress ?” to be regarded as correct, it is necessary to accept that ‘want’ could be rendered as ‘speak’, and ‘mistress’ as mother. A reformatting of the translation could therefore be ‘what speak-thou mother?’, and thus rendered the provided translation seems plausible.
unijerunbi munku ?
ngani-driya-nbi manGu
what speak-thou mother?
what do you want, mistress ?