Wata nhawu puka padni

In today’s post we learn how to say “no” in Diyari.

The English word “no” corresponds to a number of different expressions in Diyari and it is important to learn how to use them. In answer to a question or a demand we can use the word wata for ‘no’, as in:

Yini wapayi karari? Are you going now?

Wata. No.

Yundru nganthi thayirna warayi? Did you eat the meat?

Wata. No.

Nganha yingkiyamayi! Give it to me!

Wata. No.

We also use wata at the beginning of sentence to negate it, that is, to say ‘do not …’ or ‘did not …’, as in:

Wata nganhi wapayi. I’m not going.

Wata yundru nganthi thayirna warayi. You didn’t eat the meat.

Wata nganha yingkiyamayi! Don’t give it to me!

We also use this to express ‘no-one, nobody’ or ‘nothing’, like the following examples:

Wata karna wakararna warayi. No-one came. (literally, ‘not person came’)

Wata ngathu thayirna minha kurnu. I ate nothing. (literally, ‘not I eat something one’)

When talking about not having something, or lacking something (without X, or X-less), then we use padni after the thing we don’t have rather than wata at the beginning, as in:

Nganhi marda padni. I have no money.

Nhawu puka padni. He has no food.

Nhani mankarra nhintha padni. That girl is shameless (OR That girl has no shame).

Karna thidna padniyali nganha nandrarna warayi. The man with no shoes hit me (OR The man without shoes hit me) .

Kupanhi nhani yatharna warayi kathi padninhi. She spoke to the child with no clothes on (OR I spoke to the child without clothes).

If someone asks if you have something and you don’t have it, then you can simply answer padni, as in:

Yidni mardanthu? Do you have any money?

Padni. ‘None’

Diyari people, like many other Aboriginal groups, can use a hand gesture together with or instead of padni to indicate they have nothing — place one spread hand in front of the body at a 45 degree angle with palm facing away and then rotate it away from the body. (There is a video of a Wangkatjungka man demonstrating this hand sign here — it’s the second one he shows.)

Notice that we can use both expressions in the same sentence, so the title of today’s blog post can be translated as ‘No, he doesn’t have any food’.

Kararaya yawarra — word of the week: mudlha

Today we look at the Diyari word mudlha (also pronounced mulha) which can be translated into English as ‘face’ and ‘nose’, but also has a wider range of other uses. It is also found in a lot of idioms — ways of speaking where the parts do not necessarily add up to the meaning of the whole (like English ‘kick the bucket’ to mean ‘to die’).

Here are some examples showing the different uses:

  1. ‘nose’
    • thanali muku kurrarna wanthiyi mudlhanhi ‘They used to put a bone in their noses long ago’
    • mudlha kilthi ‘snot, nasal mucus’
    • mudlha murru ‘dried crust of snot under the nose’
    • mudlha kumarri ‘nosebleed’
    • mudla wirlpa ‘nostril, hole in nose’
    • mudla durru ‘hook of the nose’
    • mudlha ngankarna ‘to rub the nose’ (ngankarna generally means ‘to do, make’)
    • nganhi mudlha pununu parrayi ‘my nose is itching’. People believe that when your nose itches then someone must be talking about you behind your back.
  2. ‘tip of a body part’
    • mara mudlha ‘tip of the finger’ (mara means ‘hand, finger’)
    • thidna mudla ‘tiptoe’ (thidna means ‘foot, toe’)
  3. ‘tip or edge of something in nature’
    • ngarrimatha mudlha ‘the edge of rising flood waters’
    • wathara mudlha ‘the edge of an approaching windstorm’
    • daku mudlha ‘the point of a sandhill’
    • karirri mudlha ‘the line of trees marking the edge of watercourse or creek’
    • pirta mulha ‘the thick end of a fallen tree’
    • kalku mudlha ‘the bottom end of a reed where is is broken off the root or stalk’
  4. ‘tip or end of something that people make’
    1. katu mudlha ‘the end of a windbreak’
    2. palthu mudlha ‘the end of a road or path’
    3. marda mudlha ‘the pointed end of a grinding stone’
  5. ‘face’
    • mudlha ngumu ‘beautiful, attractive face’
    • mudlha manyu ‘friendly face’
    • mudlha kurlikirri ‘clean washed face’
    • mudlha dulyardulya ‘dirty face’
    • mudlha malka ‘stripes painted on the face’. Traditionally, when someone died the women would paint their faces with black and white stripes using charcoal and gypsum

Here are some idioms that use mudlha where the overall meaning is not predictable from the other words in the expression:

  • mudlha putyu (literally ‘face blind’) ‘not paying attention when something bad could be predicted to happen’, for example, minhandru yundru kupa yinparna warayi ngapa padninhi? Yidni mudlha putyu?. ‘Why did you send the children out without any water? Couldn’t you see (they would nearly die of thirst)?
  • mudlha yarkirna (literally ‘face burn’) ‘to look angry’
  • mudlha pirtarirna (literally ‘face become wood’) ‘to become sullen, surly, glum’
  • mudlha wararna (literally ‘face throw’) ‘to pull a long face, to look sad or disapproving’
  • mudlha thiri pardakarna (literally ‘face angry take’) ‘to make up, become reconciled with someone’. When two people are upset with each other meet and make up then they take the angry faces away.
  • mudlha wathirna (literally ‘face search’) ‘to look for someone among a group of people’
  • mudlha punthiparna (literally ‘face separate’) ‘to separate people into two groups and send them on their way’
  • mudlha matharna (literally ‘nose bite’) ‘to give someone the cold shoulder, for a woman to turn down an offer of marriage’
  • mudlha murruwarna (literally ‘nose scratch’) ‘to beat around the bush, to ask for something indirectly’
  • mudlha ngurdarna (literally ‘face stretch’) ‘to hurry ahead of someone’
  • mudlha kutya (literally ‘face feather’) ‘leader of a revenge expedition’. Traditionally, when someone died a group of men called a pinya would be sent out to avenge the death by killing someone from another group. The leader of the pinya is called mudlha kutya because they have feathers stuck on their face with blood.

Words in the examples :

dakusandhill
dulyardulyadirty
durrubent over
kalkureed
karirricreek, watercourse
katuwindbreak
kilthijuice, liquid
kumarriblood
kupachild, children
kurlikirriclean
kurrarnato put
kutyafeather of a bird (not emu)
malkamark, line, stripe
manyugood, sweet
marahand, finger
mardastone, rock, money
matharnato bite
minhandruwhy?
mukubone
murrucrust
murruwarnato scratch
ngankarnato make, to do
ngapawater
ngarrimathaflood
ngumugood
ngurdarnato stretch
padninone, nothing
palthuroad, path
parrayiis lying down (of inanimate objects)
pinyarevenger expedition
pirtatree, wood
pirtarirnato be come wood
punthiparnato separate, divide in two
pununuitchy
putyublind
thidnafoot, toe
wararnato throw
watharawind
wirlpahole in solid object
yarkirnato burn
yinparnato send

Kararaya yawarra — word of the week: thaparna

This is the first of a series of posts discussing Diyari words, roughly one each week.

Diyari has two important words: thayirna, which generally translates as ‘to eat’ and thaparna, which we are going to look at today.

The Diyari word thaparna is generally used when we would say ‘drink’ in English, for example:

  • Ngathu ngapa thapayi ‘I am drinking water’
  • Yundru kupula thaparna warayi ‘You drank beer’
  • Nhulu thirti thapalha nganayi ‘He will drink tea’

However, it is used more widely in Diyari in situations where English might use ‘eat’, ‘suck’ or some other word. Here are some examples showing its wider use:

  • to suck liquid or soft matter out of a container, as in:
    • Kupali ngama thapayi ‘The child is sucking the breast’
    • Thanali paya kapi thapayi ‘They are sucking (the contents out of) the (raw) bird’s eggs’
    • Kankuyali thurintyi thapayi mukundru ‘The boy is sucking marrow out of the bone’
  • to eat, slurp up, or chew on soft or semi-liquid food or fruit [for hard food we use thayirna ‘to eat’], as in:
    • Ngathu ngantyayi kilthi thapalha ‘I like to eat stew’
    • Thanali pawa thapayi ‘They are slurping up ground seed (mixed with water)’
    • Nhandru danyu thapayi ‘She is eating danyu fruit’ [for all soft fruits like grapes or ripe peaches we would say thaparna but for hard fruits like apple then we use thayirna]
  • to kiss, as in [notice the word marna for ‘mouth’]:
    • Ngandriyali kupa marna thapayi ‘The mother is kissing the child’
    • Ngathu yinha marna thapalha nganayi ‘I will kiss you’
    • Karnali parru thapayi ‘The man is kissing a fish’. The missionary Reverend Reuther reports that in the old days when men when fishing with yama ‘nets’ if no fish are caught in the net, one man would go down into the water, whistle into a hollow bone, and sing his mura ancestral song. After this, the first fish to be caught is kissed while the man has bread in his mouth, and then released to swim again, in order to entice other fish into the net.

So remember, thayirna is used for eating hard foods like meat, bread or hard fruit and vegetables, while thaparna is used for eating soft or semi-liquid food and fruit, for kissing, and for drinking liquids.

Words in the examples

danyutype of fruit
kankuyaliboy (active subject form)
kapiegg
kilthijuice, stew
kupachild
kupalichild (active subject form)
kupulabeer, alcohol, grog
marnamouth
mukubone
ngamamilk, breast
nganayi‘to be’, also used to indicate future ‘will do’
ngandriyalimother (active subject form)
ngantyarnato like, want’
ngapawater
ngathuI (active subject form)
nhandrushe
nhuluhe
parrufish
pawaground seed, flour
payabird
thaparnato drink, suck, slurp, kiss
thayirnato eat
thirtitea
thurintyisinew, marrow
yinhayou (one person), object form
yundruyou (one person), active subject form