NAIDOC 2017 — kupaya wima

This week, 2nd to 9th July 2017 is National NAIDOC Week. The theme this year is “Our Languages Matter”. Around Australia, there will be national celebrations of the importance, resilience and richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.

On the Dieri Yawarra blog this week we are presenting a traditional story in the Dieri language in five parts. Today, we provide an additional blog post: a children’s song. The song uses the tune of Frère Jacques (“Brother John, are you sleeping?”) and the words are adapted from the English children’s rhyme “Where is Thumbkin?” (see here). Instead of introducing the names for fingers, the Dieri song uses the names of close relatives, such as ‘mother’, ‘father’, ‘elder sister’, ‘mother’s mother’ etc. (we call these kinship terms and they are discussed in a previous post). The words were translated by Greg Wilson and Rene Warren, and this recording was made at a Dieri Aboriginal Corporation workshop in Port Augusta in March 2013.

Words of song

Wirdirdi ngandri
Wirdirdi ngandri
Nganhi nhingkirda
Nganhi nhingkirda
Wardaru yidni?
Nganhi matya manyu
Nganhi wapayilha

English translation

Where is mother?
Where is mother?
Here I am.
Here I am.
How are you?
I’m very well.
I’m going now.

In place of ngandri you can use another kinship term. Here is the next verse with kaku ‘older sister’ instead of ngandri ‘mother.

Notice that Dieri distinguishes older brother and sister from younger siblings, and also has four terms for grandparents, depending on whether it’s father’s mother/father or mother’s mother/father. Here is a list of terms you can use:

ngapiri ‘father’
kaku ‘elder sister’
nhiyi ‘elder brother’
ngathata ‘younger brother, younger sister’
kaka ‘uncle, mother’s brother’
papa ‘aunt, father’s sister’
kadnhini ‘grandmother, mother’s mother’
kami ‘grandmother, father’s mother’
ngardarda ‘grandfather, mother’s father’
yanku ‘grandfather, father’s father’

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