Kupa wakawaka thurathurarayi

In the Dieri language words can be doubled in order to express a range of meanings, depending on what type of word it is.

The doubling process is straightforward and applies in the same way to all words. If the base of the word is made up of two syllables then we simply repeat the word base (to work out how many syllables a word has then count the number of vowels, where the vowel sounds are a and i and u, as we saw in pinarru Donaldaya pamanhi). So:

kupa ‘child’ becomes kupakupa ‘little child, baby’
waka ‘small’ becomes wakawaka ‘very small, tiny’
wapa ‘go!’ becomes wapawapa ‘keep on going!’

If the word starts with ka then the second repeat of k is usually left out in ordinary pronunciation:

kanku ‘boy’ becomes kankukanku ‘little boy’ which sounds like kankuanku
kaka ‘mother’s brother, uncle’ becomes kakakaka ‘little uncle’ which sounds like kakaaka

For longer word bases of three or four syllables we double only the first two syllables, not the whole base, as in:

mankarra ‘girl’ becomes mankamankarra ‘little girl’
kadnhini ‘mother’s mother, grandmother’ becomes kadnhikadnhini ‘little grandmother, grannie’
pinarru ‘old man’ becomes pinapinarru ‘little old man’
tyapura ‘ball made of gypsum’ becomes tyaputyapura ‘little ball’
widlhapina ‘old woman’ becomes widlhawidlhapina ‘little old woman’

Notice that some Dieri words, especially names of birds, are always doubled and there is no undoubled base. Examples are:

thindrithindri ‘willy wagtail’
kilankila ‘galah’
kurdakurda ‘night-hawk’
kutyikutyi ‘blue long-tailed wren’

The meaning of doubling depends on what sort of word the base is. For words used to talk about people or things (noun bases) the effect is to indicate a small example of that person or thing, as in:

kinthakinthala ‘little dog, puppy’ (from kinthala ‘dog’)
mardamarda ‘little stone, pebble’ (from marda ‘stone, rock’)

For quality words (adjective bases) the effect is to strengthen or emphasise the quality:

wakawaka ‘very small, tiny’ (from waka ‘little’)
kurndikurndi ‘crooked’ (from kurndi ‘bent’)
partiparti ‘mad, crazy’ (from parti ‘silly’)

For action words (verb bases) the effect is to repeat the action or keep on doing the action, as in:

dama ‘to cut repeatedly’ (from dama ‘to cut’)
kurlkukurlkunga ‘to jump up and down’ (from kurlkunga ‘to jump’)
wakawakari ‘to smash to pieces’ (from wakari ‘to break’)

yathayatha ‘to converse, talk to one another’ (from yatha ‘to speak’)
nhayinhayi ‘to watch’ (from nhayi ‘to see’)
ngamangama ‘to keep on sitting’ (from ngama ‘to sit)

Notice that some action words (verb bases) are inherently repeated and they are completely separate words from the unrepeated base. Some examples are:

kungkakungka ‘to grunt’ (compare this to kungka ‘to limp’)
karrakarra ‘to feel’ (compare karra ‘to tie up’)
karkakarka ‘to invite’ (compare karka ‘to shout, yell out’)

In these cases, if we wish to express the repeated action or keep on doing action for the unrepeated base we have to repeat the base and also add the ending -tharri, as in the following examples:

kungkakungkatharri ‘to keep on limping’
karrakarratharri ‘to keep on tying up, tie up repeatedly’
karkakarkatharri ‘to keep on shouting’

Note: the title of this blog uses two doubled words, wakawaka ‘very small’ is a quality word (adjective) and thurathurara ‘to keep on sleeping’ is an action word (verb). The title means ‘The babies are keeping on sleeping’.

One thought on “Kupa wakawaka thurathurarayi

  1. Pingback: Waka ya Wakaleo | Ngayana Diyari Yawarra Yathayilha

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