Wata nganhi waparna warayi ngarla nganhi wapalha nganayi karari

In today’s blog post we are going to learn about how to express in Dieri when an action or event has taken place or will take place. The general term for this is tense.

In English to express time relations we use special words placed in front of the verb — these are called auxiliary verbs and they function to indicate when a situation takes place. Examples are:

I have seen your uncle’s house — happened before now (in the past)
She is singing in the bathtub — is happening right now (in the present)
I will go to town tomorrow — will happen later (in the future)

In Dieri we also use auxiliaries to express time reference but they follow the main verb. There are two forms that the main verb takes in these constructions:

  1. the dictionary form of the verb which consists of the verb root plus the ending -rna, which is what is listed in the dictionary. Examples are wapa-rna ‘to go’, thayi-rna ‘to eat’ and paku-rna ‘to dig’
  2. the -lha form of the verb which consists of the verb root plus the ending -lha, which we have seen in previous blog posts used to mark a subsequent action in a sequence that involves the same subject, eg. nganhi wapayi nguraya puka wayilha ‘I am going home to cook food’ (the person who goes is the same one who does the cooking). Examples are wapa-lha ‘to go’, thayi-lha ‘to eat’ and paku-lha ‘to dig’

In the following table we use the example of wapa- ‘to go’ and give the different auxiliary verbs that can follow it, together with their functions. Notice that three of these are in common use and are coloured red in the list — the others are rather rare in use:

Verb+Auxiliary Function
waparna wanthiyi ‘went long ago’ — a situation that took place a long time ago
waparna wapaya ‘went a while ago’ — a situation that took place some time ago, perhaps one or two months ago
waparna wapayi ‘always goes’ — a situation that habitually takes place
waparna parraya ‘went a couple of weeks ago’ — a situation that took place one or two weeks ago
wapalha wirriyi ‘went yesterday’ — a situation that took place yesterday
waparna warayi ‘went earlier’ — a situation that took place earlier today
wapalha nganayi ‘will go’ — a situation that will take place later

We can use any verb in combination with these auxiliaries to express the meanings that we want. Here are some examples from Dieri stories:

waru thanali kapirri thayirna wanthiyi ‘They ate goannas long ago’
pula nandramalirna wapaya ‘Those two had a fight a good while ago’
ngathu kathi karparna wapayi ‘I sew clothes’
nhawu thikarna parraya ‘He came back a few weeks ago’
nandru nhinha nhayilha wirriyi ‘She saw him yesterday’
nhulu nganha nandrarna warayi ‘He just hit me’
yundru nganha marda yingkilha nganayi? ‘Will you give me some money?

Note: The title of this blog posts shows the use of these different forms. It can be translated as ‘I did not go but I will go soon’ and consists of:

wata ‘not’
nganhi ‘I’
waparna warayi ‘went earlier’
ngarla ‘but’
nganhi ‘I’
wapalha nganayi ‘will go’
karari ‘soon, today’

Yini wapalha nganayi piranhi

Yini wapalha nganayi piranhi

One thought on “Wata nganhi waparna warayi ngarla nganhi wapalha nganayi karari

  1. Pingback: Thana Dieri yawarra yathayi nhurru-nhurru | Ngayana Diyari Yawarra Yathayilha

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