The title of this blog is kamanalimara which means ‘family’. It is made up of kamanali which means ‘relative’ and the ending -mara which is added to words that refer to family members to form a term that refers to a group of people. There is more discusson of its use below.
The Dieri language has a large number of terms for referring to members of the family and distinguishes between different relations that are grouped together under one term in English. For example, the term ‘aunt’ can be used to refer to the sister of your mother or father — in Dieri different terms are used for these two people. Similarly, while English only has ‘grandfather’ Dieri distinguishes between the father of your father and the father of your mother.
Let’s look at the basic terms. Firstly, for your own generation within the family we make a difference between older brothers and sisters and younger ones, but for younger children there is no distinction between younger brother and younger sister. Here are the terms:
kaku ‘older sister’
nhiyi or nhinhi ‘older brother’
ngathata ‘younger brother’ and ‘younger sister’
For parent’s generation the same term is used for mother and mother’s sister (maternal aunt) and for father and father’s brother (paternal uncle) while there are different terms for aunt who is father’s sister and uncle who is mother’s brother:
ngandri ‘mother, mother’s sister’
ngapiri ‘father, father’s brother’
kaka ‘mother’s brother, uncle’
papa ‘father’s sister, aunt’
For the grandparent’s generation there are four different terms:
kanhini ‘mother’s mother, (maternal) grandmother’
kami ‘father’s mother, (paternal) grandmother’
yanku ‘mother’s father, (maternal) grandfather’
ngardarda ‘father’s father, (paternal) grandfather’
When we want to speak about our children, there are different terms depending on whether it is a child of a man or the child of a woman (with no difference between whether the child is a boy or girl). So we have:
ngathani ‘child of woman’
ngathamurra ‘child of man’
So, if I am female I call my son or daughter ngakarni ngathani and if I am a male I call my son or daughter ngakarni ngathamurra. If I want to I can then clarify the gender of the child as:
One way to learn this system is to draw up a chart of all your relatives and work out how you would refer to them in Dieri.
The ending -mara that we saw before can be added to any kinship term X to create a word meaning ‘a group of relatives, one of whom is X to the others’. So:
kakumara means ‘a group of relatives, one of whom is older sister to the others’ — we could use this to talk about a group made up of a sister and her younger brothers and sisters
ngapirimara means ‘a group of relatives, one of whom is father to the others’ — we could use this to talk about a group made up of a father and his children
What do you think kanhinimara would mean?
What about papamara?