Nganhi walkarrali nganayi

Most situations that describe the visible external quality of a person, animal or thing (like ‘It is big’ or ‘You are small’) in Dieri are expressed as a noun or pronoun in the intransitive subject form (recall from the previous blog post that this is the basic form we find in the dictionary) followed by an adjective that gives the quality, as in these examples:

kinthala pirna ‘The dog is big’
kupa wakawaka ‘The child is very small’
karirri marru ‘The river is wide’
palthu wuldru ‘The path is narrow’
pirta payirri ‘The stick is long’
yinka wardu ‘The string is short’

nganhi payirri ‘I am tall’
yini wardu ‘You are short’
nhawu partiparti ‘He is mad’
nhani pirna ‘She is big’

In contrast, situations that refer to internal or emotional qualities are expressed in a different way in Dieri. These qualities are nouns in Dieri, not adjectives, and they are used a special type of sentence which consists of:

  • a noun or pronoun in intransitive subject form
  • the internal/emotional noun in transitive subject form (taking the ending -yali or -li)
  • the connecting word ngana ‘to be’ which takes endings that show the time of the situation being described

Some examples are:

kupa mawali nganayi ‘The child is hungry’
kinthala thardiyali nganayi? ‘Is the dog thirsty?’
wilhapina yapali nganarna wanthiyi ‘The old lady was afraid long ago’

nganhi mawali nganayi ‘I am hungry’
yini thardiyali nganayi? ‘Are you thirsty?’
nhawu walkarrali nganarna warayi ‘He was sad (earlier today)’
nhani nhinthali nganarna wanthiyi ‘She was shy long ago’

For mawa ‘hunger’ and thardi ‘thirst’ the thing that someone or something is hungry or thirsty for can be expressed as a noun with the ending -ya, as in:


nganhi mawali nganayi nganthiya ‘I am hungry for meat’
pinarru thardiyali nganayi kupulaya ‘The old man is thirsty for grog’

For the other feelings or emotions the cause or reason for them can be expressed with a noun taking the ending -nhi that we usually use to show a location ‘in, at, on’. Examples are:


mankarra yapali nganayi marankarranhi ‘The girl is afraid of spiders’
kupa walkarrali nganalha nganayi ngandrinhi ‘The child will be sad for his mother’

These roots have another special characteristic in Dieri. They can take the ending -kantyi to refer to a person or animal that shows this quality all the time. Examples are:

mawa-kantyi ‘someone who is always hungry’
yapa-kantyi ‘someone who is always afraid’
nhintha-kantyi ‘someone who is always shy’
walkarra-kantyi ‘someone who is always sad’

Examples of their use are:

nhawuya kupa mawakantyi ‘This child is one who is always hungry’
nhani mankarra yapakantyi ‘This girl is one who is always afraid’

2 thoughts on “Nganhi walkarrali nganayi

  1. Pingback: Nganhi marda padni | Ngayana Diyari Yawarra Yathayilha

  2. Pingback: Kanku mawakantyi | Ngayana Diyari Yawarra Yathayilha

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