Here I was starting to wonder if my job here is becoming a bit stale.
Today was one of those not so exciting days where our main job was to scour the school roll, sorting kids into language groups and organising where, when and how to run our school classes… not really something I need my linguistic skills for, just a long-winded adminstrative task.
But it’s funny how things can just turn around.
Old F has been keen to work with these old Marra ladies (the world’s best Marra speakers) who are usually either at their remote outstation, or in Numbulwar (inaccesible this time of year). But she saw those old ladies here in Ngukurr today. And so at the end of the day, sick of my admin tasks, I went to Old F to see if she wanted to sit down with the two old ladies. And she did – she’s been hanging out to check the Marra materials she makes). So we went off to ask them.
And it was the best ever! The three of them sat for an hour, speaking Marra 80% of the time. I sat there quietly, recording every word. It was so great. I understand a good deal of the conversation, mostly because I knew what they were talking about (because they were going over Marra materials I’d helped produce). But still, it was the first time I’d heard so much Marra and the first time I’d heard Old F speak Marra in conversation. And when I had a go at using some of my basic Marra skills the response was excellent and the old ladies complemented me. Ahhhhhh. Such a good feeling and it was so wonderful to be listening to some of the last speakers of Marra in the world sit around and bust out their language like it was as ordinary as a language with millions of speakers. And for me to follow what was going on!