The Dieri language makes a fundamental distinction between verbs (words describing actions or events) that are intransitive and verbs that are transitive (see this blog post for an introduction).
Intransitive verbs involve just one participant, and include concepts like wapa-rna ‘to go, walk’ or ngama-rna ‘to sit’ or thurara-rna ‘to lie down, sleep’. The person or thing who does this action is called the intransitive subject (shown in purple), as in:
thanaya kupakupa wapayi ‘These children are going’
nhawu ngamayi warlinhi ‘He is sitting in the house’
waranha thurarayi nhaka? ‘Who is sleeping over there?’
Transitive verbs involve two participants, one who does the action (the transitive subject, shown in red) and one who is affected by the action (the transitive object, shown in green) and include concepts like dama-rna ‘to cut’ or thayi-rna ‘to eat’ or nhayi-rna ‘to see, look at’, as in:
thanaliya kupakupali nhinhaya pipa damayi ‘These children are cutting this paper’
nhulu nganthi pandra thayiyi ‘He eats cooked meat’
warli yinanha nhayiyi ‘Who is looking at you?’
Now, Dieri also has a different set of verbs that involve two participants, however one takes the same form as an intransitive subject (shown in purple) while the second one (shown in orange) is in the locative form which we usually use to indicate where something or someone is located (like warlinhi ‘in the house’ in the example above). These verbs (which we call extended intransitive verbs) are different from transitive verbs because they involve two participants but they don’t affect or change anything, and usually describe speech or thoughts rather than physical actions. These verbs include the following:
dalki-rna ‘to disobey’
darni-rna ‘to say goodbye to’
kilpari-rna ‘to disbelieve’
kurutharra-rna ‘to forget’
murda-rna ‘to finish with’
tyampa-rna ‘to be very fond of’
Here are some examples:
thanaya kupakupa kalapayi thanarni ngapiranhi ‘These children answer their father’
yaruka nganhi murdayi nhangkangu ‘That’s how I finished with her’
wata yini tyampayi walypalaya puka ‘You are not really fond of white people’s food’
When we learn a new verb in Dieri it is important to also learn whether it is intransitive, transitive or extended intransitive as this will affect the number and form of the participants that can occur together with the verb.
Question: Can you translate the title of this blog post? The sentence actually comes from a traditional Dieri story. The answer will be in the next blog post.