In the late 1960s and early 1970s Luise Hercus (now a Research Associate at the Australian National University in Canberra) began recording and studying the Aboriginal languages spoken to the west of Lake Eyre, especially Arabana and Wangkanguru.
At Umeewara Old People’s home on Davenport Reserve just outside Port Augusta in 1968 Luise met Alec Edwards, a Dieri man who was born in the 19th century and had lived on the Bethesda Mission at Killalpaninna. He retired to Port Augusta with his wife Catharina Edwards, and when he saw Luise interviewing speakers of Arabana and Wangkanguru he asked her to record his language too, starting in 1971. The result of this is about 12 hours interviews and conversations between Luise Hercus and Alec Edwards recorded on reel-to-reel tapes. Alec Edwards passed away before Peter Austin began his studies of Dieri in 1974.
With the help of Paul Sidwell of the University Phonetics Laboratory we have now digitised all these recordings and Luise Hercus has made them available for the Dieri Aboriginal Corporation members to use in their language revitalisation project. This is a very valuable addition to the sound recordings of the Dieri language we now have available, especially as they come from the last generation of people to have lived at Bethesda and spoken Dieri as their main daily language.
Note: The title of this blog means ‘They told one another things long ago’. It is made up of the following words:
waru means ‘long ago’
pula means ‘they two’ (for three or more we use thana)
warapamalirna means ‘told one another things’. It consists of the action word (verb) root warapa ‘tell someone a story’ and the endings -mali ‘one another’ and -rna ‘to do’
wanthiyi means ‘did long ago’. It is a helping word (auxiliary) that follows the verb to indicate action done in the distant past.