Today was a fairly average day for my fieldwork in Ngukurr. Average, yet remarkable.
Me and the Marra mob I work here with did two sessions today and did some good work on Marra. But just in those two short sessions, we spanned a 45-year period, exemplifying that the Marra language is actually being remarkably resilient given the sociocultural situation it finds itself in.
This morning BR, JJ and FR worked with me and I encouraged them to continue some Marra literacy and transcription practice. So we used an archived recording made in 1966 by Margaret Sharpe and Stanley Roberts. It's a great recording to listen to and use for transcription training. The words and sentences aren't too fast and complex and we get to chuckle and Margaret and Old Stanley's not-quite-perfect Marra and English skills. It's also great that such an old recording is lively again.
In the afternoon session, I had a go at doing my own elicitation session with FR and MT. BR and GB where there for back-up help too. It went well and went for just over an hour. Along with going over some sentences that I was curious about for my own Marra acquisition, I wanted to test out a few distinctive Kriol words and sentences and see how the old ladies interpret them into Marra.
For example, there's a lovely Kriol idiom imin gibit mijel which is derived from the English he/she gave herself but actually means he/she scrammed/ran off quickly. The Marra equivalent?
He gave himself / Imin gibit mijel
Cool! A nice parallel Marra/Kriol idiom.
Those old ladies told me lots more cool things in Marra this afternoon and at the end, I just couldn't help thinking how nice it is to be doing this sort of work in 2011, 45 years after Margaret Sharpe and Stanley Roberts sat down and did a similar thing.
So happy that Marra language has stuck around this long.