Wirdirdi yini wapayi?

Back in February when we started this blog the first blog post introduced the expressions for how to greet someone and say “hello” in Dieri. Basically, what we say is wardaru ‘how’ plus the relevant pronoun yini ‘you (one person)’, yula ‘you (two people)’ or yura ‘you (more than two people)’. Interestingly, since then Dieri people are increasingly using these expressions in conversation when they meet, and also in emails.

So, how do we start and continue the conversation? In Australian English, we might say ‘g’day, how are you going?’. What about in Dieri?

The usual way to open a conversation in Dieri is to say mayi ‘hey’ followed by wardaru plus the proper pronoun mentioned above. We can then continue with one of these expressions:

wirdirdi yini wapayi? ‘Where are you (one person) going?’
wirdirdi yula wapayi? ‘Where are you (two people) going?’
wirdirdi yura wapayi? ‘Where are you (more than two) going?’

In English it might seem rude to ask someone who you have just met: ‘Where are you going?’ (unless they are a good friend) but in Dieri this is quite normal.

And the answer? We can tell the other person the place to which we are going using the ending -ya ‘to …’ attached to the location or the name of the place, as in these examples:

nganhi wapayi nguraya ‘I am going to the camp’
ngali wapayi ngakarni warliya ‘We two are going to my house’
ngayani wapayi marriya ‘We all are going to Marree’

Notice that if the place is a three syllable word ending in i or u this changes to a before we add -ya, as in:

nganhi wapayi karirraya ‘I am going to the creek’ (‘creek’ is karirri)
ngali wapayi mitha puthurraya ‘We are going to the dusty place’ (‘dust’ is puthurru)

You can also give a short reply in which you just mention the place to which you are going (always with the -ya ending), as in:

nguraya ‘to the camp’
ngakarni warliya ‘to my house’
marriya ‘to Marree’
karirraya ‘to the creek’
mitha puthurraya ‘to the dusty place’

Another alternative is to use the verb wirari-rna ‘to wander about’ when there is no particular place that you are going to, as in:

nganhi wirariyi ‘I am just wandering about’

And when the conversation is over, what do you say then? In English we would say ‘goodbye’ or ‘bye’ or ‘see you later’ or something similar. There is nothing exactly like this in Dieri, and at the end of a conversation you would usually just say:

nganhi wapayilha ‘I am going now’
ngali wapayilha ‘We (two) are going now’
ngayani wapayilha ‘We (all) are going now’

Notice the ending -lha added to wapayi to indicate new information about something happening now.

Again, this might seem a little odd to speakers of English but different societies have different ways of greeting each other and saying goodbye and this just happens to be the Dieri way.

Here is a full imaginary conversation:

Speaker A: mayi, wardaru yula?
Speakers B & C: matya ngali manyu
Speaker A: wirdirdi yula wapayi?
Speakers B & C: karirraya, ngapa pardalha
Speaker A: yara wapalumayi
Speakers B & C: ngali wapayilha
Speaker A: nganhi pakarna wapayilha

Here is the literal translation into English:

Speaker A: Hey, how are you two?
Speakers B & C: We’re good
Speaker A: Where are you two going?
Speakers B & C: To the creek to get some water
Speaker A: Go that way.
Speakers B & C: We’re going now
Speaker A: I’m going too


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