July 11, 2013

Good-but-weird Beswick Kriol

I'm not too far away from finishing my PhD (I hope!) and my plan for afterwards is to come back to Katherine and see what comes my way. I'm pretty confident that I'll find interesting work that utilises my skills and experience like the other day when I was asked to help Djilpin Arts with a Kriol translation of a picture book they're creating.

It was only a little job, but very interesting for me because I had to translate it into Beswick Kriol, rather than Roper Kriol which I'm much more familiar with. There was a surprising number of little adjustments I had to make to ensure the translation sounded okay to a Beswick audience and Evangeline at Djilpin Arts was invaluable in providing assistance.

There were a few things I already knew to avoid - for instance, Beswick mob say idim instead of dagat for 'eat', they say deya instead of ja for 'there' and my favourite - they say eberrijing instead of enijing for 'things/belongings'.

But there was plenty I didn't know. I thought some of these Roper words might make the cut but they were all out: warajarra for 'floodwater', munyurrumap for 'grind/refine', bal for 'pound', maj or muny for 'curse'. The word for 'curse' (verb) was a new one for me - Beswick mob apparently say wunymang. Who knew?! Other substrate-derived words I had to include were moyi (green plum) and jotmo (a plant/bush medicine called guyiya or dogbul in Ngukurr). Yarlbun, which is the ubiquitous word for lilyseed in Roper Kriol was also out, replaced by datam.

It was really interesting to learn just how much variation there was between the Kriol I know and the Kriol spoken by those only a few communities away from Ngukurr. If I do go on to do more academic research after my PhD, I want to do a proper study of dialectal variation in Kriol, something that's never really been systematically studied before. In the meantime, the translation I worked on will go into a picture book called River Boy that will be released at the upcoming Walking With Spirits festival and it'll feature a Rembarrnga version of the text too apparently. Good stuff.

The highlight of doing this job however was getting this sign from Djilpin Arts, in return for my work (as well as a bit of cash):


It's a bilingual anti-smoking sign in English and Nunggubuyu and I love it. Someone had found it at the Numbulwar tip and gave it to them a couple of months ago. Djilpin kept it because they liked how it looked but I don't think appreciated the language part as much as me. So I figured it deserved to go to a better home where it could be fully appreciated. Ha! I'm going to donate it to the Ngukurr Language Centre anyway. :-)

1 comment:

bulanjdjan maïa said...

great projects! I've heard dagat in Weemol Kriol I think--but yes, idim more frequent