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’.

Nhawurdatha nganhi!

Here is the comic we presented in the last blog post:
comic6

Here is what the two characters (Thidnamara ‘Frog’ on the left, and Mawakantyi ‘Greedy’ on the right) are saying:

Thidnamara: wardaru yini mawakantyi? ‘How are you?’
Mawakantyi: matya nganhi manyu ‘I’m fine’
Thidnamara: waranha nhaniya? ‘Who is she?’
Mawakantyi: nhaniya ngakarni papa ‘She is my aunt’
Thidnamara: waranha nhawurda? ‘Who is he?’
Mawakantyi: nhawurda ngakarni kaka ‘He’s my uncle’
Mawakantyi: nhawurdatha nganhi! ‘This is me!’

The English translation misses some important parts of the meaning in the Dieri original because English does not have a way to express certain concepts, like the distance someone is from the speaker. Notice that Frog uses nhaniya to refer to the aunt who is a little distance away, using the ending -ya. But when he points to the uncle who is understood to be right close by he uses nhawurda with the ending -rda that means ‘close by’. Similarly, when Greedy sees himself on the computer screen he uses nhawurda because it is close by (he could reach out and touch it) — he also adds the ending -tha which indicates old information, something that everyone can see and know about. Notice if the character was female she would say nhanirdatha nganhi! ‘This is me!’ using the female term for ‘this, she’.

You can use these expressions by yourself or in a group to practise Dieri in several ways. One possibility is to draw pictures of your relatives (and yourself!) and write the term for their relation to you in Dieri under the picture. Then place them on a table at various distances away and practice saying things like nhawurda ngakarni kaka ‘This (right here) is my uncle’ or nhaniwa ngakarni ngandri ‘That (far away) is my mother’. You can also do this with a friend as question and answer pairs, like:

Question: waranha yingkarni kaka ‘Who is your uncle?’
Answer: nhawurda ngakarni kaka ‘This (nearby) is my uncle’

or:

Question: nhaniya yingkarni kaku kara yingkarni ngathata ‘Is this your older sister or your younger sister?’
Answer: nhaniya ngakarni kaku ‘This is my older sister’

If you can use Powerpoint you can also scan the pictures with their Dieri relation terms, and create a Powerpoint show with them, one on each slide, and then narrate the slides in Dieri as you present them. You can end your presentation with nhawurdatha nganhi! or nhanirdatha nganhi!, depending on whether you are male or female.

Note: Thanks to Greg Wilson and the Dieri Language Committee for sharing some of the materials and ideas in this blog post.

Waranha nhawurda?

Today’s comic talks about different relations:

comic6

Here is what the two characters (Thidnamara ‘Frog’ on the left, and Mawakantyi ‘Greedy’ on the right) are saying — to help understand them you might have a look back at this blog post and this blog post. For some of the dialogue listen to the recordings of Aunty Rene and Aunty Winnie below:

Thidnamara: wardaru yini mawakantyi?
Mawakantyi: matya nganhi manyu
Thidnamara: waranha nhaniya?
Mawakantyi: nhaniya ngakarni papa
Thidnamara: waranha nhawurda?
Mawakantyi: nhawurda ngakarni kaka
Mawakantyi: nhawurdatha nganhi!

Listen to Aunty Rene and Aunty Winnie saying part of the dialogue:

nhaniya ngakarni papa

nhawurda ngakarni kaka

nhawurdatha nganhi!

In the next blog post we will look at the translation of this dialogue and also some ways it can be used in language learning activities, either by yourself or in a group, such as in a classroom.

Note: Thanks to Greg Wilson and the Dieri Language Committee for sharing their sound recordings.

Nhingkirda, nhingkiya, nhingkiwa, nhaka

The previous blog post presented a comic where the characters talk about ‘this’ and ‘that’ and ‘here’ and ‘there’ in Dieri. Here it is again:

comic5

Here is what the two characters are saying (Warrangantyu means ‘left, left-hand’ and is the character on the left, and Ngunyari means ‘right, right-hand’ and is the character on the right in each panel):

Warrangantyu: minha nhawuwa? ‘What’s that?’
Ngunyari: wirdirdi? nhingkirda? ‘Where? Here?’
Warrangantyu: wata! nhawuparra nhingkiwa ‘No, that one, there’
Ngunyari: nhaka? pirtanhi? ‘There? In the tree?’
Warrangantyu: wata yaruka warritha marla ‘Not that far away’
Ngunyari: aa nhingkiwa ‘Oh, there’
Warrangantyu: kawu ‘Yes’
Ngunyari: nhawuparramatha mutaka ngakarni ngapiraya ‘That’s my father’s car’

English has only two words ‘this’ and ‘that’ to talk about things, and ‘here’ and ‘there’ to talk about locations. Dieri has more terms and is able to make subtle contrasts that are lacking in English.

To point out something we can use the words nhani ‘she, this’ for females and nhawu ‘he, it, this’ for everything else (these are the forms we use for intransitive subject in Dieri — the full set of forms for other functions are listed in this blog post). We can then add to these words endings that show distance from the speaker and the person spoken to:

-rda ‘right next to the speaker’, around 1 metre away
-ya ‘near the speaker’, around 2-3 metres away
-wa ‘far from speaker’, over 5 metres away

This gives us the following diagram:

nhawu

Dieri has two other useful endings:

-parra ‘previously mentioned’, indicates something that the speaker or another person has mentioned previously, or that is being pointed to
-matha ‘identified information’, indicates that the speaker is able to identify the thing being spoken about

This gives us:
nhawuparra ‘this one we were talking about’
nhawumatha ‘this one that I just realised what it is’

You can combine these to give:
nhawuparramatha ‘this one that we were talking about that I just realised what it is’

This is used Ngunyari in the last frame when he realises exactly what it is that Warrangantyu has been pointing to all the time.

Finally, to talk about locations we have the following terms in Dieri (notice that English has only ‘here’ and ‘there’):

nhingkirda ‘here, right next to the speaker’, around 1 metre away
nhingkiya ‘here, near the speaker’, around 2-3 metres away
nhingkiwa ‘there, far from speaker’, over 5 metres away
nhaka ‘there, far from the speaker and the person spoken to’, a long distance away (including places that cannot be seen, like places over a hill or on the other side of the world)

This gives us:

nhingki

Note: The two characters also use two very useful Dieri words kawu ‘yes’ and wata ‘no’ in their discussion.

Nhawuparra nhingkiwa

Today’s comic is about saying ‘this’ and ‘that’ and ‘here’ and ‘there’ in Dieri.

comic5

Here is what the two characters are saying (Warrangantyu is on the left and Ngunyari is on the right in each panel):

Warrangantyu: minha nhawuwa?
Ngunyari: wirdirdi? nhingkirda?
Warrangantyu: wata! nhawuparra nhingkiwa
Ngunyari: nhaka? pirtanhi?
Warrangantyu: wata yaruka warritha marla
Ngunyari: aa nhingkiwa
Warrangantyu: kawu
Ngunyari: nhawuparramatha mutaka ngakarni ngapiraya

Here is the vocabulary you need to understand this conversation:

kawu ‘yes’
marla ‘very’
minha ‘what?’
mutuka ‘car’
ngakarni ‘my’
ngapiraya ‘of father’ (consisting of ngapiri and the ending -ya ‘possessor, of’, with a change in the last vowel of the root element)
nhaka ‘there’
nhawu ‘he, this/that’
nhingki ‘here’
pirtanhi ‘in the tree’ (consisting of pirta ‘tree’ and the ending -nhi ‘in, located at’)
warritha ‘far, distant’
wata ‘no, not’
wirdirdi ‘where?’

There are also some endings that can be added to pronouns like nhawu ‘he, this/that’ and nhani ‘she, this/that’ and to the location word nhingki ‘here’ that appear in this conversation:

-rda ‘right next to the speaker’
-matha ‘identified information’
-parra ‘previously mentioned’
-wa ‘far from speaker’

Using this information, try to understand the conversation and to translate it into English. We will present the translation and some grammar notes in the next blog post.

Note: Thanks to Greg Wilson for suggesting the topic of today’s post.

Kanku ngampu purirna warayi

In today’s blog post we look at the cartoon that was presented yesterday, and translate it into English, as well as discuss some grammar points.

comic4

Here is what the characters are saying in Dieri with translation into English:

Boy: Ngapiri! Ngapiri! ‘Dad! Dad!’

Man: Minha? ‘What?’

Boy: Nganha nhayiyamayi karlkungarna ‘Look at me jumping!’

Man: Yini karlkungayi manyu marla ‘You are jumping really well’

Man: Ngamamayi! Yini puriyathi ‘Sit down! You might fall down’

We have seen all the grammar constructions used here in previous posts — the forms for ordering someone to do something nhayiyamayi ‘Look!’ and ngamamayi ‘Sit down!’ were discussed in this blog post and the use of the ending -yathi for something bad that might happen, as in puriyathi ‘might fall down’, was discussed in this blog post.

Notice that in the middle box the father could have also said Yini kantyi karlkungayi manyu marla ‘You can jump really well’ using the little word kantyi which means ‘can, be able to do’.

The title of this blog post contains another useful little word ngampu which means ‘almost, nearly’. So the title means ‘The boy almost fell down’. Other examples of its use are:

Ngandri ngampu muka thurararna warayi ‘Mother nearly fell asleep’

Nhinha waldrali ngampu nharingankarna wanthiyi ‘The heat almost killed him long ago’

Kanku karlkungayi

Today’s cartoon includes some simple expressions that we have seen before (you might find it useful to revise this blog post and this blog post). You can click on the cartoon to see a bigger version in a new window.

comic4

Here is what the characters are saying in Dieri:

Boy: Ngapiri! Ngapiri!

Man: Minha?

Boy: Nganha nhayiyamayi karlkungarna

Man: Yini karlkungayi manyu marla

Man: Ngamamayi! Yini puriyathi

Can you work out what the cartoon is about? We have seen all the words before, except for karlkunga-rna which means ‘to jump’. Try to understand the dialogue and how the Dieri language is being used.

The translation and a discussion of the cartoon will be in the next blog post.

Nhawuya mawakantyi

Today we look at the dialogue in the continuation of the cartoon story we presented in the previous blog post (click to open a larger version in a new window):

comic3

Did you work out what the boy wants from his mother now?

Here is the dialogue and the English translation:

Boy: ngandri! ngandri! ‘Mother! Mother!’
Mother: minha yundru ngantyayi karari? ‘What do you want now?’
Boy: yini mardanthu? ‘Do you have any money?’
Mother: minhandru? ‘Why?’
Boy: ngathu ngantyayi minha kurnu thayilha ‘I want to eat something’
Mother: matya yundru thayirna warayi puka pirna ‘You have already had a lot to eat!’
wapamayi ngathatamara pirkilha ‘Go and play with your older sister’

We have seen all the grammatical structures here before, except for one new thing, and that is minha kurnu ‘something’ — we use this when we are thinking of something but don’t want to name it (in this example the boy is thinking of pizza). If we don’t know what the thing is then we use minhaya ‘something or other’ (we also have waranhaya ‘someone or other’).

Finally, notice that the last thing that the mother says is difficult to translate into English — ngathatamara means ‘a group of two or more people one of whom is called ngathata ‘younger sibling’ by the others’ (the uses of -mara are explained near the bottom of this blog post. We know from the previous cartoon that the boy has an older sister so I have translated this sentence as ‘Go and play with your older sister’, but depending on the context it could also mean ‘Go and play with your older (or younger) brother(s) (or sister(s))’. If the mother wanted to be a bit clearer she could have said kaku-mara instead, which would have meant ‘a group of two or more people one of whom is called kaku ‘older sister’ by the others’.

And the title of the previous blog? We can translate it as ‘The greedy boy’ since kanku means ‘boy’ and mawakantyi means ‘someone who is hungry all the time’. The title of today’s blog post can be translated ‘He is a greedy one’.

Nganhi marda padni — yini mardanthu — nhawu mardamara

I yesterday’s blog post we presented another cartoon in the Dieri language. Here it is again:

comic2

Here is the dialogue, together with the English translation — did you work it out for yourself also?

Boy: ngandri! ngandri! ‘Mother! Mother!’
Mother: minha yundru ngantyayi? ‘What do you want?’
Boy: nganhi mawali nganayi ‘I am hungry’
nganha marda yingkiya ‘Give me some money!’
Mother: nganhi marda padni ‘I’m broke’
karari wata ngathu marda ngamalkayi ‘I don’t have any money now’
yini karlkamayi thangkuparnayarlu ‘You wait until tomorrow!’

We have seen all the grammatical structures here before, except for one new thing, and that is how to express a situation where you don’t have something.

In Dieri to say ‘don’t have X’ where X is a thing (a noun) you simply say X padni where padni means ‘no, none’. You can use this as a statement or a question, as in these examples:

  • nganhi marda padni ‘I don’t have any money, I’m broke’
  • yini mutuka padni? ‘You don’t have a car?’
  • karna tyata padni ‘The man does not have a shirt’
  • ngaldra nhuwa padni ‘We two are without a spouse, we two are unmarried’ (Dieri nhuwa means ‘wife’ for a man, and ‘husband’ for a woman — we use the English word ‘spouse’ to cover these meanings)
  • ngayana warli padni ‘We all don’t have a house, we have nowhere to live’

Alternatively, we can use the particle wata ‘not’ plus the verb ngamalka-rna ‘to have’ in a transitive sentence with a subject and an object, as in (notice that for some words the transitive subject has a different form from the intransitive subject that we saw above):

  • wata ngathu marda ngamalkayi ‘I don’t have any money, I’m broke’
  • wata yundru mutuka ngamalkayi? ‘You don’t have a car?’
  • wata karnali tyata ngamalkayi ‘The man does not have a shirt’
  • wata ngaldra nhuwa ngamalkayi ‘We two don’t have a spouse, we two are unmarried’
  • wata ngayana warli ngamalkayi ‘We all don’t have a house, we have nowhere to live’

To express having something, there are again two possibilities. We can just use ngamalka-rna ‘to have’, as in:

  • ngathu marda ngamalkayi ‘I have money’
  • yundru mutuka ngamalkayi? ‘Do you have a car?’
  • karnali tyata ngamalkayi ‘The man has a shirt’
  • ngaldra nhuwa ngamalkayi ‘We two have spouses, we two are married’
  • ngayana warli ngamalkayi ‘We all have a house’

The second way to express this is to use the ending -nthu attached to the thing that is owned — there is no verb here so we use the intransitive subject form for the person who is the owner, as in:

  • nganhi mardanthu ‘I have money’
  • yini mutukanthu? ‘Do you have a car?’
  • karna tyatanthu ‘The man has a shirt’
  • ngaldra nhuwanthu ‘We two have spouses, we two are married’
  • ngayana warlinthu ‘We all have a house’

There is another alternative as well, and that is to use the ending -mara instead of -nthu — both -mara and -nthu mean exactly the same:

  • nganhi mardamara ‘I have money’
  • yini mutukamara? ‘Do you have a car?’
  • karna tyatamara ‘The man has a shirt’
  • ngaldra nhuwamara ‘We two have spouses, we two are married’
  • ngayana warlimara ‘We all have a house’

When -mara is used with a word that refers to a relative, like nhuwa ‘spouse’ or kaku ‘older sister’ then X-mara creates a noun that means ‘two or more people, one of whom is called X by the others’. So we have:

  • nhuwa-mara ‘a married couple’
  • kaku-mara ‘an older sister and her brothers and/or sisters’
  • ngandri-mara ‘a mother and her children’
  • ngapiri-mara ‘a father and his children’
  • kadnhini-mara ‘a grandmother and her grandchildren’

To be clear about the number of people involved, we can use pula ‘they two’ or thana ‘they all’ together with these words:

  • pula kakumara wakarayi ‘an older sister and one younger sister or brother are coming’
  • thana kakumara wakarayi ‘an older sister and two or more younger sisters or brothers are coming’

And so on for the other relationship terms.

Note: The title of this blog means ‘I have no money — you have money — he has money’.

Nganhi marda padni

Today’s blog post features another cartoon that contains some ordinary everyday use of the Dieri language.

comic2

Here is the dialogue in Dieri. See if you can work out what it means in English (Hint: look back at the previous blog post — some extra new words you might need are given at the bottom of this page, along with some links to where you can find out about the grammar for these words).

Boy: ngandri! ngandri!
Mother: minha yundru ngantyayi?
Boy: nganhi mawali nganayi
nganha marda yingkiya
Mother: nganhi marda padni
karari wata ngathu marda ngamalkayi
yini karlkamayi thangkuparnayarlu

New words

  • karlka-rna ‘to wait’ — for grammar click here
  • marda ‘stone, money’
  • mawa ‘hunger’ — for grammar click here
  • ngamalka-rna ‘to have’
  • nganha ‘me’ — transitive object form (for grammar click here)
  • padni ‘no, none’
  • thangkuparna ‘later, tomorrow’ — for grammar click here
  • yingki-rna ‘to give’ — for grammar click here

In the next blog post we will give the translation and discuss this cartoon. In the meantime, try to work out how the Dieri language is being used for yourself.