Stories in Jiwarli 2

Today’s post presents another story in Jiwarli with English translation told and explained to me by Jack Butler. There is information about the Jiwarli spelling.

Emu and Turkey

This story concerns the gajalbu Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) and bardurra Turkey (also called ‘wild turkey’ or ‘bustard’, Ardeotis australis) who discuss which of them should fly.

Stories of Emu and Turkey (or Emu and Brolga in eastern Australia) are found across Australia, as reported in Ronald M. Berndt & Catherine H. Berndt (1989) The Speaking land: myth and story in Aboriginal Australia, pp. 400-401. Melbourne: Penguin Books.

Emu (left) and Turkey (right)

Gajalbu bardurra mandhardagayi gumbaja wanggaarni. Wandhagalarra nhurra. Gajalbu wanggaja bardurrala. Wagararrira nhurra jirndingga. Gajalbu wagararrinyja jirndingga. Maranyjirrinyja barlgarrala. Bardurradhu wanggaja nhurra jaligurdi ngarda nhurra wanarra. Ngarda nhurra wagararrinyja jirndingga wanarra. Gajalbu wanggaja. Nhurralbu gaji jirndingga wagararrima jaligurdi. Wagararrinyja jirndingga. Nhurra bagalya. Ngarda nhurra bulhu. Ngadhadhu wanarra. Nhurra gumbama wagararriji wamburrajaga wirlgajaga wagararrirarringu. Ngadha barlgarrala gumbira. Bardurra wanggaja. Gaji nhurra ngarlburrima. Gajalbu ngarlburrinyja. Bardurradhu wanggaja. Nhurraburra gumbama barlgarrala. Gurlbaru nhurrala warndinha ngarradhanyurru. Nhurra yinha wirlga bulhurlalgarru. Ngadha gumbira wagararriji. Gaji nhurra ngarlburrima. Gajalbu wanggaja. Ngarlburrinyja. Warri. Nhurra wagararrima jirndingga. Bagalya. Dhudhunggu nhurranha bajalgangu. Ngadhaburra galardidhu ngarlburrirarringu. Bayalbarru bula wanggaarnirrinyja.

Emu and Turkey were talking. “How will you be?” Emu was talking to Turkey. “Will you fly in the sky?” Emu flew in the sky. He landed on the flat ground. Turkey said: “Friend your legs are long. Your legs were long when you flew in the sky.” Emu said: “Now you try to fly in the sky, friend.” Turkey flew in the sky. Emu said: “You are good. Your legs are short. Mine are long. You be a flier with feathers on your wings to fly. I will live on the flat ground.” Turkey said: “You try to run.” Emu ran. Then Turkey said: “You should live on the flat ground. The dust rises up behind you. I will make these wings of yours short. I will be the flier.” “You try to run”, Emu said. So Turkey ran. “No. You fly in the sky. That’s good. The dogs might bite you. I’ll be the fast runner” said Emu. That’s all they said to one another.

 

Stories in Jiwarli

In 1997 I published a book of stories in Jiwarli with English translations that were told and explained to me by Jack Butler. The stories include traditional narratives dealing with the ancestral beings, events from Jack’s personal history, and ethnographic texts about how Jiwarli people carried on their lives traditionally. The book was published in Japan and is now out of print, so I present some of the stories here, in a new transcription that reflects the spelling preferences of people in the Gascoyne Region.

Plains Kangaroo and Hill Kangaroo

This story describes how gurrbirli Plains Kangaroo (also called ‘red kangaroo’) and madhanma Hill Kangaroo (also called ‘euro’ or ‘wallaroo’) decided where each of them was to live.

Plains_kangaroo  Hill_kangaroo

Plains kangaroo (Osphranter rufus) (left) and hill kangaroo (Macropus robustus) (right)

Gurrbirli madhanma gumbaja wanggaarni ngana gumbayi barlungga ngana gumbayi barlgarrala. Madhanma wanggaja. Nhurra dharrbama nyirnda walhungga. Ngurndama nhurra nyirnda jumangga walhungga. Gurrbirli ngunha dharrbanyja ngurndayi walhungga ngunhi jumangga barlungga. Gurrbirli wanggaja. Nhaarrinyjarru. Nhurra ngarda ngurndinha jurungga. Gurrbirli wanggaja. Nhurra dharrbama ngurndayi. Bigurda dharrbanyja ngunhiba walhungga ngurndayi. Nhurra ngurndinha birdurarru warrirru mulgu nhanyabuga mandhardalu gurningurru nhurramba. Nhurra gumbama barlunyungu. Ngunha wanggaja. Ngaa. Nhurra yanama gumbayi. Gurrbirli wanggaja. Nhurra yanama bugardirarrila gumbayi barlgarrala malungga ngurndayi bugardila gujilarabirrila.

Plains Kangaroo and Hill Kangaroo were talking to one another about who would live in the hills and who would live on the flat. Hill Kangaroo said: “You go into the cave here. You lie down here in the small cave”. Plains Kangaroo went in to lie there in the small cave. Plains Kangaroo said: “What happened?” “Your legs are lying in the sun” [said Hill Kangaroo]. Plains Kangaroo said: “You go in to lie down.” Hill Kangaroo went in there to lie in the cave. “You are lying concealed so you won’t be seen by men looking for you. You live among the hills” [said Plains Kangaroo]. That other one (Hill Kangaroo) said: “Yes. You go and live there.” Plains Kangaroo said: “You go to live amongst the snakewood on the flat ground, to lie in the snakewood and amongst the mulga.”

 

 

What does Jiwarli sound like?

In order to introduce the Jiwarli language and its last speaker, Jack Butler, here is the beginning of a traditional story that Jack recorded on 3rd November 1983 and transcribed and translated with Peter Austin on 17th May 1984.

1280px-Eurostopodus_argus_2_-_Christopher_Watson

The story tells the tale of the bird kapakurta ‘spotted nightjar’ (Eurostopodus argus) and the bat mikalyaji ‘type of bat’ (species unknown). These two are related as ngathal  ‘same sex cross-cousins’; the term ‘cross-cousin’ means either the child of one’s father’s sister or the child of one’s mother’s brother. Since the two protagonists are understood to be male, ngathal here can mean either ‘father’s sister’s son’ or ‘mother’s brother’s son’. In Jiwarli this kind of cousin is distinguished from punkali ‘opposite sex cross-cousin’, that is, for a woman it would be her  father’s sister’s son, or mother’s brother’s son. For a man punkali refers to his cousin who is his father’s sister’s daughter or his mother’s brother’s daughter.

The two protagonists kill a man called Pipijunkurru, boss of all the people. After some travels they secretly spear him while he is lying in a bough shade. They are caught by Pipijunkurru‘s group and punished for their misdeeds by being speared and beaten with boomerangs and women’s yamsticks. Their legs were broken so that today both creatures lie on the ground when they land and they must both drink water on the wing, rather than being able to stand and drink like other animals. As with other Australian Aboriginal groups, traditional stories like this come from the Dreamtime, described in Jiwarli as ngurra pularalapurra ‘when the earth was soft’, and they provide a foundation for understanding the characteristics and behaviour of the animals and places as they are today. Such stories often also involve extensive travel through named places (called in English ‘Dreaming tracks’ or ‘Songlines‘) — we will discuss this more in a later blog post.

Here we present the first five lines of the story as told by Jack Butler:

We can write this in Jiwarli as follows (see Spelling for details of the letters and the way we spell Jiwarli):

Kapakurta mantharta and mikalyaji

Kapakurta mikalyaji

Paja yananyja manthartawu yiniyi pipijunkurruwu

Maatha ngunha manthartanyjarriyi pipijunkurru

Warri nhukuparnti ngunha paja yananyja

Ngunhakayi kajiriwari kamparninyjalu kajiriyi kamparninyja ngunhipa yirrara

We can translate this into English as follows (note that spears are heated over the fire in order to straighten and strengthen them):

‘The nightjar man and bat. Nightjar (and) bat. They were angry with a man named Pipijunkurru. That Pipijunkurruwas the boss of the people. They didn’t go along angry from nearby. After having first heated their spears at Mt Florrie, they heated them there at the top.’

The rest of the story deals with their further adventures and we will return to it later, once some details of the structure of Jiwarli are presented. This will enable readers to understand the grammar and translation of the full Jiwarli story.

 

Welcome to the Jiwarli blog

jack.mediumThis blog concerns the Jiwarli language (also spelt Djiwarli, Tjiwarli) which was traditionally spoken along the upper reaches of the Henry River, a tributary of the Ashburton River, in the north-west of Western Australia. The language was unrecorded until 1978 and is now extinct; the last person who learnt to speak Jiwarli as a child, Mr Jack Butler, passed away on 24th April 1986. Before his death Jack Butler worked with Peter Austin to record over 70 texts in a range of genres, including mythology and personal history, a vocabulary of around 1,500 words and grammatical elicitation of morphological paradigms and syntactic constructions. Publications on the language include a bilingual dictionary (Austin 1992), a text collection (Austin 1997), and articles on morpho-syntax (Austin and Bresnan 1996, Austin 1995, 1998, 2000, 2001). A grammar of Jiwarli is being prepared for publication.

Jiwarli is closely related to its immediate neighbours, Warriyangka, Thiin and Tharrkari as members of the Mantharta group (mantharta being the word for ‘person’). The languages share up to 80% common vocabulary and a similar grammatical system. Tharrkari has undergone a number of historical phonological changes that make its pronunciation (phonetics and phonology) highly unusual for an Australian Aborignal language. None of the Mantharta languages has any native speakers today, though some knowledge of words and expressions remains among descendants. The Mantharta languages are most closely related to the Kanyara languages spoken to their west and north-west, namely Payungu, Pinikura, Purduna, and Thalanyji. They share approximately 60% cognate vocabulary and a number of grammatical features in common, including switch-reference and clause linkage effects on case-marking (Austin 1996, 2004). Today only Thalanyji continues to be spoken by older members of families living in and near Onslow, Western Australia. The Kanyara and Mantharta languages belong to the widespread Pama-Nyungan family which covers the southern two-thirds of Australia.

This blog will present information about Jiwarli with examples of its use, including audio recordings of Jack Butler.

 

References

Austin, Peter 1992 A dictionary of Jiwarli, Western Australia. Melbourne: La Trobe University.

Austin, Peter 1995 ‘Double case marking in Kanyara and Mantharta languages.’ In Frans Plank, ed. Agreement by Suffixaufnahme, 363-379. Oxford: OUP.

Austin, Peter 1997 Texts in the Mantharta languages, Western Australia. Tokyo: Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.

Austin, Peter 1998 ‘Eaglehawk was sitting chasing them: grammaticisation of the verb ‘to sit’ in Mantharta languages, Western Australia’, in Anna Siewierska and Jae Jung Song (eds) Case, typology and grammar: in honour of Barry J. Blake. Typological Studies in Language 38. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Austin, Peter 2000 ‘Word order in a free word order language: the case of Jiwarli’. In Jane Simpson, David Nash, Mary Laughren, Peter Austin and Barry Alpher (eds.) Forty years on: Ken Hale and Australian Languages, 205-323. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.

Austin, Peter 2001 ‘Zero arguments in Jiwarli, Western Australia’ Australian Journal of Linguistics 21(1): 83-98.

Austin, Peter 2004 ‘Case and clauses in Australian Aboriginal Languages’. University of London, MS.

Austin, Peter and Joan Bresnan 1996 ‘Non-configurationality in Australian Aboriginal languages’, Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 14: 215-268.