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]

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