June 15, 2007


Occasionally, I get asked if there's any meaning behind the names of the languages we work with here, like, if a similar thing happens here that you get on the east coast where language names are sometimes derived for the word for 'no, nothing' in that language (e.g. Gooreng gooreng (from Bundaberg area) is the word for 'no' reduplicated).

That doesn't happen here but I like to think what the languages would be called if that *did* happen here:

Marluy marluy
Mandi mandi
Gatjja gatjja
Waba waba
Waari waari

hehe... sounds funny.

But then the other day I realised that it *does* happen for one of the languages here, although only informally and in casual speech... I realised that I've regularly ppl talking about Yolŋu or Ritharrŋu / Wägilak mob and referring to them as 'yaka bayaŋu mob'. Neat!


jangari said...

After the first paragraph, i thought you were going to say something like:

I asked them if the name of the language means anything, to which they replid "No, nothing" which I understood to mean "It doesn't mean anything in our language - it's just a name". Little did I know that the name of the language actually meant "No, nothing."

It'd be a good story, no? A little Abbott and Costello-esque (the good ones)?

bulbul said...

hehe... sounds funny.
Reduplication almost always does :o)

Anonymous said...

that's interesting, especially since yaka/bayngu (on borrowed computer - can't do engma) doesn't distinguish between a bunch of Yolngu languages (and if Wagilak is like Yan-nhangu, it's got several).