Paya pirtanhi ngamayi

During the Dieri language committee meeting in Port Augusta last month the group described a number of pictures and recorded short dialogues in the Dieri language. Here is one of the dialogues about an eaglehawk sitting in a tree.

To begin, listen to the sound recording of the whole dialogue recorded by Reg, Rene and Peter, and see how much you can understand. Then, have a look at the sentences below and listen to each one individually.

karrawara

Reg: paya pirtanhi ngamayi

Rene: paya karrawara pirtanhi ngamayi

Peter: minha paya nhawuya?

Rene: karrawara

Rene: paya karrawara pirtanhi ngamayi

Translation

Reg: A bird is sitting in a tree
Rene: An eaglehawk is sitting in a tree
Peter: What bird is it?
Rene: Eaglehawk
Rene: An eaglehawk is sitting in a tree

Grammar notes
These sentences illustrate several features of Dieri grammar; we have seen most of them in previous blog posts:

  1. the verb in Dieri goes at the end of the sentence, so here ngamayi ‘is sitting’ is the last word
  2. to express location add the ending -nhi to a noun, such as pirta ‘tree’, so pirtanhi means ‘in a tree’
  3. when Reg describes the picture he uses the general word paya ‘bird’ (which covers any flying bird in Dieri, so cannnot be used for warrukathi ’emu’), however Rene is more specific and identifies the particular type of bird. Dieri speakers can combine words with a general meaning, like paya ‘bird’, together with a word with more specific meaning to be clear about exactly what the speaker is referring to, so paya karrawara ‘bird eaglehawk’ is used by Rene here. Other examples would be nganthi tyukurru ‘kangaroo’ which is made up of the general term nganthi ‘edible animal, meat’ and the specific term tyukurru ‘kangaroo’, and also marda pukartu ‘red ochre (from Parachilna)’ which is made up of the general term marda ‘stone’ and the specific term pukartu ‘ochre from the Bookatoo mine near Parachilna in the Flinders Ranges’

One thought on “Paya pirtanhi ngamayi

  1. Pingback: Warrukathi | Ngayana Diyari Yawarra Yathayilha

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