In this post we will learn about numbers and counting in Dieri.
Dieri has three basic numbers:
kurnu means ‘one’
mandru means ‘two’
parkulu means ‘three’
We also have marapu or marpu meaning ‘many’ (there is an example in the song described here, namely puluka marpu ‘many cattle’).
In Dieri all elements that modify meaning follow the words they modify, so numbers follow the noun that they refer to, as in:
mankarra kurnu ‘one girl’
kanku mandru ‘two boys’
karna parkulu ‘three people’
kinthala marapu ‘many dogs’
Notice that kurnu can also be used to mean ‘alone, by oneself’, as in:
nganhi kurnu ngamayi nguranhi meaning ‘I am sitting in the camp alone’
It is possible to use the basic numbers plus the words mara ‘hand, finger’ and ya ‘and’ to count items greater than three. Here are the terms we use:
mandru-mandru ‘four’ (literally ‘two-two’)
mara warra ‘five’ (literally ‘half the fingers’)
mara warra ya kurnu ‘six’
mara warra ya mandru ‘seven’
mara warra ya parkulu ‘eight’
mara warra ya mandru-mandru ‘nine’
mara partyarna ‘ten’ (literally ‘all the fingers’)
Alongside these numbers, Dieri also has two words we can use to describe elements in a sequence:
kupa ngupara ‘first child’
We also have nguparayitya ‘first one’ and ngardayitya ‘next one’, as in:
nhawuya nguparayitya ‘He is the first one’
nhaniya ngardayitya ‘She is the next one’
These can also be used to modify words that refer to people or things:
nhawuya kupa nguparayitya ‘He is the first child’
nhaniya kupa ngardayitya ‘She is the next child’
To practise the numbers you might like to collect together a number of items (like pirta ‘sticks’ or marda ‘stones’) and try counting them in Dieri.
How would you say ‘I’m first’ in Dieri? What about ‘You’re next’?