07 November 2013

Guns, sticks and Mrs Bennelong

One of the most noticeable things about guns, when they are used, is that they go ‘bang!’ 
It is obvious, but we do not think about it much.

First Fleeter Watkin Tench wrote about the Indigenous Australians of Sydney:
“a gun, for instance, they call Goòroobeera, that is — a stick of fire.” [Tench 292:24]

Another obvious thing is that Aboriginal dances commonly feature men moving about, stamping the ground, with much clapping together of sticks, and the sound of singing, perhaps accompanied by a didgeridoo. The ‘Anon’ notebook recorded ‘Another mode of dancing’ as Car-rib-ber-re.

“Bennillong, previous to his visit to England, was possessed of two wives ..., both living with him and attending on him wherever he went. One named Ba-rang-a-roo, who ... lived with him at the time he was seized and brought a captive to the settlement 
and before her death he had brought off from Botany Bay... Go-roo-bar-roo-bool-lo
and she continued with him until his departure for England. [Collins 1: 464:2]”

Bennelong’s wife Ba-rang-a-roo died in 1792. 
Goo-roo-bar-roo-boo-lo is spelt by William Dawes as  Kurúbarabúla
Bennelong was taken to England in 1792 by retiring Governor Phillip.

These details may be presented in a table:

TABLE 1: gun / corroboree / person’s name

guru-bi-ra =
"a gun, for instance, they call Goòroobeera, that is — a stick of fire. — Sometimes also, by a licence of language, they call those who carry guns by the same name."
gun  [fire stick]:
Tench [:292:25.1] [BB]
garibari =
"Another mode of dancing"
corroboree  [dancing]:
Anon (c) [c:8:11] [BB]
Gurubara bula =
"[Aged ] 17"
Gurubara bula  :
Dawes (b) [b:41:15.1] [BB]

When these three records are put together in this way the idea emerges that they might be related. The three words gurubira, garibari, and gurubara bula have a resemblance the one to the other. But there is more. 

When the clapsticks used in a corroboree are smacked together they go ‘bang!’, not unlike a gunshot. Moreover there are always two of them, one in each hand. So perhaps the ‘other mode of dancing’ was the type featuring clapsticks (a corroboree); 
— guns were called ‘clapsticks’ because of the similar sound they made when fired; 
— and perhaps near at hand at the time of  Kurúbărăbúla’s birth clapsticks (inevitably two) were at hand.

The records may be looked at more closely. 

TABLE 2: garibari
The following suggest a pronunciation of garibari / garibara or similar:

garibari =
"Another mode of dancing"
corroboree– dancing:
Anon (c) [c:8:11] [Biyal Biyal]
garibari =
corroboree  jump-having:
Hunter’s Journal [:145:11] [BB]
garabara =
"To dance"
corroboree– dance:
Southwell [:148.2:5] [Biyal Biyal]
garabara =
"to dance"
corroboree– dance:
AL&T Rowley GeoR [:261:12] [Dharug (Ridley)]
garabara =
corroboree– dance:
KAOL Rowley GeoR [:107:2] [Dharug (Ridley)]
garabari =
corroboree– jump-having:
Lesson, R.P. [:280:9] [Dharug (Ridley)]
garabari =
"a friendly “corroboree,” which was a dance"
corroboree  jump-having:
Hill, Richard [:1:10] []

TABLE 3: dyari-ba-[ra]
By contrast, another group suggests there might be another word entirely:

dyara-ba =
"What gives fire"
fire stick  :
Anon (c) [c:29:11.1] [BB]
dyara-ba =
"What gives fire"
fire stick  :
Anon (c) [c:29:11.2] [BB]
dyara-ba =
"Anything that gives fire, as a gun etc."
fire stick  [gun]:
King in Hunter [:408.2:33] [BB]
dyara-ba =
"that gives fire"
fire stick  :
King MS [:402:30] [BB]
dyiri-ba-ra =
gun  [musket]:
Larmer, James: JRSNSW, 1898 (1834 list) [:224.1:7] []

dyira-ba =
"The name given to the musquet;"
gun  [fire stick]:
Anon (c) [c:16:19.1] [BB]
dyira-ba =
"The name given to the musquet"
gun  [fire stick]:
Anon (c) [c:16:19.2] [BB]
dyara-bara =
gun  [fire stick]:
KAOL Rowley GeoR [:105:41] [DG]

It might be the case that there are two distinct words garibari and dyaraba(ra), one to do with corroborees and the other with guns (or fire).

On the other hand, it might be the confusion caused by English spellings, and the possibility that ‘g’ can be pronounced as ‘j’ as in ‘ginger’ and ‘George’. So the first five of the dyara-ba words above might equally be transcribed as gara-ba. This leaves the last three in the table as ‘j’ words, all to do with ‘fire stick’. This might be a confusion, as the first record in Table 1 has gurubira, i.e. with a ‘g’.
But in the Sydney language at least, there are often further doubts. It concerns ‘red’:

TABLE 4: gari: red

gari =
red  :
Mathews 8006/3/5 -5 [108–Dharug] [:111:20] [DG]
gariya =
"kangaroo (red)"
kangaroo  red:
AL&T Rowley GeoR [:259:5] [DG]
gariya =
"kangaroo (red)"
kangaroo  red:
KAOL Rowley GeoR [:104:9] [DG]
gara gara =
"Red ditto (possum)"
possum  red:
Collins 1 [:511.2:24] [BB]
gurid =
""Red-breasted Parrot", native name "Goo-reet"..."
lorikeet  rainbow:
Painters [::] [BB]
guril =
""Red-breasted or Blue-bellied Parrot", native name "Goeril" ..."
lorikeet  rainbow, blue-bellied:
Painters [::] [BB]
garid =
"Scarlet-breasted Flycatcher", native name "Karreet "
robin  flame:
Painters [::] [BB]

While the spelling gari is no problem, the word means ‘red’ (akin to ‘fire’, or ‘what gives fire’), and hence not a ‘clapstick’. So while the idea that garibari ‘corroboree’ might really mean ‘clapstick’, perhaps there was another similar word garaba(ra) meaning ‘produce (red) fire’.

Thursday 7 November 2013