26 January 2016
Biyal Biyal Australian National Anthem
Copyright ⓒ Jeremy Macdonald Steele 2016
Tuesday 19 January 2016
This work is copyright. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process, nor may any other exclusive right be exercised, without the permission of Jeremy Macdonald Steele, 107 Rosemead Road, Hornsby NSW 2077: as of 2016.
How did this translation come about?
An Aboriginal singer-songwriter acquaintance sent an email inviting Your Amateur Researcher (YAR) to look at what he had just done. He had produced a draft of a translation of the Australian National Anthem. It was soon apparent that this was more a collection of concepts rather than a grammatical narrative. It prompted a new attempt, one that a speaker such as Mr Bennelong might have understood. A line-by-line consideration of this alternative translation follows, including the sources used for the Sydney language words in it.
Line 1 baraya-ba-nyi Australia-gal
Australians all let us rejoice
baraya is ‘to sing’ as can be seen from Fig. 3.
The third row in the table shows it suffixed with a past tense marker, and a bound pronoun: ‘thee’ (normally -nya).
Fig. 3 baraya: sing
In the anthem the future tense marker -ba is used, together with the bound pronoun for ‘we-all’.
There was no known word for Australia so the English word is used. Suffixed to it is -gal, denoting a group of people, as in:
Fig. 4 The -gal: the ‘people’ suffix
Line 2 ngyila gurung gurigarang
For we are young and free
The nominative or subject pronouns ‘I’ and ‘thou’, and their accusative counterparts ‘me’ and ‘thee’ are well known in both free and bound forms:
Fig. 5 Table of some singular pronouns
The archaic ‘thou’ and ‘thee’ usage is adopted to avoid of the ambiguity in modern English between singular and plural ‘you’.
As most of the recorded conversational situations in the early days of the European upheaval were of the you-me type, where one person was talking to another, it seems that most of the other pronouns did not get to be recorded. In particular you plural in both its forms of ‘you-two’ and ‘you-all’ seem totally missing, or are possibly there but never identified as such. Some of the other pronouns in the Sydney Language are uncertain, with lingering doubt between the we/us and the they/them forms. This leads to the matter of ngyila.
Fig. 6 The principal ngyila records
Despite Your Amateur Researcher’s own earlier interpretations in the yellow column, it seems that ngyila might have been ‘we’ rather than ‘they’. But let you dear reader, be the arbiter in resolving this dilemma. In Fig. 6 the top and bottom entries are the most clearly stated. Today, YAR favours the first of these, and is taking ngyila to mean ‘we-all’, with the ngyilu form meaning ‘we-all alone’, or ‘just us three’.
Next, in Aboriginal languages, there is the question of duality or plurality, a sophistication lacking in English. All except the first of the translations in the yellow column in the table opt for the dual ‘they-two’. This is largely because of the third entry there, about a man and his wife—hence the idea of just two people rather than more.
The last two examples given, manila and yanila, are related and can be considered together. But whether or not we are dealing with two or more here, is the meaning we or they?
Each of the lines in Fig. 6 represents a situation where something was happening. After the first example, all four situations can be read differently from the English translations provided. So, example by example, instead of the ‘they’ forms we might view the circumstances in terms of ‘we’, thus:
—come on, let’s play, let’s all of us (i.e. we-all) play;
—he says, my wife and I, this is what we do, we-two;
—‘Manila!’, shouts Anganángan (actually ngana-ngana, but that is another matter), we’ve caught one! That is, we-two, or we-all, have caught a fish;
—‘Yanila’, ‘we’re going’, might well have been what was said that Dawes heard. Dawes on seeing the people departing might have confirmed the moment to himself as ‘They’re going’, and hence his translation for the word.
But back to the Anthem. Line 2 begins ngyila: it means ‘we-all’, if you accept this reasoning.
The next two words in the line are not ‘young’ and ‘free’, for which there are no Sydney Languages records (and especially not for the abstract concept ‘free’):
Fig. 7 gurung child, guri-garang glad
‘Child’ can reasonably stand for ‘young’; and if you are free, you might well be ‘happy’, ‘glad’ or ‘not angry’. It is a pity there is nothing to back up Dawes on gurigarang meaning ‘glad’. There are words for ‘anger’ that are faintly similar: gulara, wuru and yura, but that is all. But who is to question Dawes at this stage: he was there; he heard it; he wrote it down.
Line 3: bimal yaragal; ganu burug
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil
The sources for Line 3 are:
Fig. 8 earth yellow; full belly
The words in Fig. 8 have been chosen to represent the concepts ‘We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil’. As ‘wealth’ and ‘toil’ are abstract nouns for which no equivalents were recorded, perhaps it is reasonable to evoke a ‘full belly’ to convey the idea of being satisfied with one’s circumstances. If you should think it odd that quite dissimilar words should be used for ‘replete’, the answer might be that ganu perhaps implied ‘satisfied’ or even ‘vegetable food’; and that burug might be a mis-recording of barang meaning ‘belly’.
Line 4: ngura gari-garang-arayi
Our home is girt by sea
Home: A very useful word is ngura, for ‘place’, ‘country’, ‘camp’, and consequently ‘home’.
Having: The lampooned phrase ‘girt by sea’ can be considered as ‘having sea’, or ‘having sea around’. Concepts of ‘having’, and its contrasting ‘lacking’, are ubiquitous in Australian Aboriginal languages. However, although the First Fleeters and those afterwards must have heard it all the time, the word for ‘having’ was never identified for the Sydney Language. They heard the ‘lacking’ form often enough, -buni, and even realised it was sometimes rendered as -muni. However, in Wiradhuri, across the mountains and in other inland NSW languages, the word for ‘having’ is widely attested, as -arayi. YAR, without authority, is suggesting using this suffix for the ‘having’ function. The following table presents some support for this leap:
Fig. 9 -arayi / -iriyi: possibly indicating the proprietive suffix ‘having’
sea-having: Thus sea-having is proposed as ……-arayi. But what is the word for ‘……’: sea? This is another Sydney Language dilemma. The word for ‘sea’ was not badu, which was used for ‘drinking water’. For ‘ocean’, some Aboriginal informants offered a word, biriwal, which might have meant ‘distant’, or even ‘huge’, both of which ideas may reasonably be associated with oceans. But in Sydney the word that repeatedly cropped up for ‘sea’ was garigarang:
Fig. 10 gara…: sea, deep / long / tall
The examples in Fig. 10 are persuasive that garigarang did mean ‘sea’. The fact that the word is uncannily similar to gurigarang ‘glad’ (or ‘not angry’) featured in Line 2 above we will have to accept as a coincidence.
The last two examples in Fig. 10 seem to indicate that the sea was perceived as being ‘deep’, and was linked to drowning:
Fig. 11 gura: drown, in deep water
Line 5 ngura badu dali mari-dulu
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts
In the Line 5 translation, ngura ‘camp’ (met in the previous line) is used for ‘our land’; and badu ‘drinking water’ and duli/dali ‘food’ are offered as equivalent to ‘nature’s gifts’. Likewise mari-dulu ‘plenty’ is suggested as a reasonable translation of ‘abounds’. These are featured in the following table of sources:
Fig. 12 Sources for words occurring in Line 5
Line 6 dyara marama guwing
Of beauty rich and rare
Words recorded by Dawes for a sunset are proposed for the Anthem line about ‘beauty rich and rare’:
Line 7 barani yagu baribugu
In history’s page, let every stage
Needless to say, they are no records for either ‘history’s page’ of ‘letting every stage’. So what is suggested are the following to indicate a time sequence:
Fig. 14 Words for yesterday, today and tomorrow
‘Now’ or ‘today’ were recorded as both yagu and yaguna, with yagu being perhaps the commoner. -na was probably a suffix of unresolved significance.
Line 8 yan-ma-nyi Australia-gal
Advance Australia Fair.
No words are to be found in the records for such a concept as ‘advance Australia fair’, so for the Anthem translation it is proposed to use instead something like: ‘Australians, let’s get going!’ The Australians part, Australia-gal for ‘people of Australia’, was dealt with under Line 1 above.
In Line 2 Fig. 6 above, yan was seen as the verb ‘to go’. When conjugated in the future tense we have:
Fig. 15 We will go
First Fleeter David Collins, in this Fig. 15 example, records the ‘we-all’ bound pronoun as -nya. However, the more reliable Dawes obtained it precisely as -nyi.
Line 9 budyari baraya-ba-nyi
In joyful strains then let us sing
Once again, there nothing in the records for ‘joyful strains’, so an alternative idea must be proposed for this line. YAR has offered ‘good/well we-all will sing’, or idiomatically ‘let’s all sing well’. The verb ‘to sing’ was met in the explanation for Line 1, so the only new word here is ‘good’. There are about 40 recordings of this word, from which collection the following is offered:
Fig. 16 budyari: ‘good’
Line 10 yan-ma-nyi Australia-gal
Advance Australia Fair
This last line is a repeat of Line 8.
Now the challenge is to sing the words, to match the rhythm of the English.
Tuesday 26 January 2016