Folsom Prison mandru-mandru

steam_train

Today, we look at the fourth and final verse of the Dieri translation of Johnny Cash’s song Folsom Prison Blues (for the first verse go here, for the second verse go here and for the third verse go here). In English, the fourth verse reads like this:

Well if they freed me from this prison
If that railroad line was mine
I bet I’d move on over
A little further down the line
Far from Folson Prison
That’s where I want to stay
And I’d let that lonesome whistle
Blow my blues away

As usual, we have had to adapt the Dieri translation so that the words could fit the melody, so here is the fourth verse in Dieri:

Thanali jaila wirlpangankarnanhi
Nganhi nhurru marla wapayi
Trainali nganha pardakayi
Nguraya warrithaya
Folsom Prisonandru waparna
Ngurra ngamalha nganayi
Ya trainaya wirlpinali
Matya nganha manyungankayi

Translated into English this means:

If they open the jail
I would go very quickly
The train would take me
To a home far away
Going from Folsom Prison
I will always stay
And the train’s whistle
Would make me feel better

The words and their meanings are the following:

thanali means ‘they’ referring to three or more people. This is the transitive subject form

jaila is the English word ‘jail’ with an a added since Dieri words must all end in a vowel and have two syllables

wirlpangankarnanhi means ‘if (someone) opens’ and consists of the root wirlpa ‘hole, opening’ and the endings -nganka ‘to cause, make’ and -rnanhi meaning ‘event happening at the same time with a different subject’ (the subject of wirlpanganka ‘to open, cause to be open’ is ‘they’ and the subject of the next line is ‘I’)

nganhi means ‘I’. This is the the intransitive subject form

nhurru means ‘quick, fast’

marla means ‘very, more’ and serves to emphasise the previous word here, so ‘very quickly’

wapayi means ‘am going’ and consists of the root wapa ‘to go’ and the ending -yi indicating present tense, a situation happening now

trainali means ‘by the train’ and is the transitive subject form (it consists of the English word ‘train’ (with a added to make it two syllables and ending in a vowel) plus the ending li which marks transitive subject for roots of two syllables ending in a)

nganha means ‘me’ and is the transitive object form (the object of the verb ‘carry’ here)

pardakayi means ‘is carrying’ and consists of the root pardaka ‘to carry’ and the ending -yi indicating present tense, a situation happening now. As we saw in a previous post traditionally pardaka-rna means ‘to carry in the hands’ — here it is extended to the train carrying the singer away inside it

nguraya means ‘to home’ and consists of ngura ‘camp, home’ plus the ending -ya which indicates ‘direction towards a place’ (the technical term for this is the allative case — we will discuss it in more detail in a future post)

warrithaya means ‘to far away’ and consists of warritha ‘far, distant’ plus the ending -ya which indicates ‘direction towards a place’. It modifies the previous word so we have ‘to a home far away’

Folsom Prisonandru means ‘from Folsom Prison’ and uses the English name (with added final a for ‘prison’, as we have seen previously for ‘jail’ and ‘train’) plus the ending -ndru which means ‘from (a place)’ (the technical term for this is the ablative case — we will discuss it in more detail in a future post)

waparna means ‘going’ and consists of the root wapa ‘to go’ and the ending -rna indicating ‘event happening at the same time with a same subject’ (the subject of wapa ‘to go’ is the same as the subject of the next line, namely ‘I’)

ngurra means ‘always’ (be careful to make a clear pronunciation difference between ngurra ‘always’ with a trilled-r sound (like a Scottish r) and ngura ‘camp, home’ with a short flapped-r sound as confusing the two words makes a lot of difference in meaning!)

ngamalha means ‘(will) sit, (will) stay’ and consists of the root ngama ‘to sit, stay, live’ and the ending -lha which indicates future tense (something happening later) in combination with the next word

nganayi indicates a future situation when it follows a verb that ends with the -lha component — it is equivalent to English ‘will’ in ‘will sit’

ya means ‘and’

trainaya means ‘of the train’, and is the possessive form of the word ‘train’ that is borrowed from English (using the ending -ya meaning ‘belonging to, owned by’)

wirlpinali means ‘by the whistle’ and is made up of the root wirlpi ‘to whistle’, the ending -ni which indicates ‘thing that does an action’ and turns verbs into nouns (so wirlpi-ni is used to describe the thing ‘whistle’), and the ending li which marks transitive subject. For nouns of three syllables ending in i like wirlpini, the last vowel changes to a before we add -li (this is also true for root words of three syllables ending in i, so kadnhini ‘mother’s mother’ has the transitive subject form kadnhinali)

matya means ‘already’

nganha means ‘me’ and is the transitive object form (the object of the next word which is the verb ‘make feel good’)

manyungankayi means ‘is making feel good’ and consists of the root manyu ‘good’ and the endings -nganka ‘to cause, to make’ and -yi ‘present tense’

This is the last verse and completes our translation of Johnny Cash’s song.

Note: Many thanks to Greg Wilson and the Port Augusta Dieri Language Committee, especially Aunty Renie Warren, for passing on to me the draft of their song translation

Folsom Prison parkulu

After a bit of a break due to having to go back to London and resume my usual teaching, supervision and administrative duties, I am back to Dieri language work now and will be trying to post new materials here regularly.

Today, we look at the third verse of the Dieri translation of Johnny Cash’s song Folsom Prison Blues (for the first verse go here and for the second verse go here). In English, the third verse reads like this:

I bet there’s rich folks eating
In a fancy dining car
They’re probably drinking coffee
And smoking big cigars
But I know I had it coming
I know I can’t be free
But those people keep a-movin’
And that’s what tortures me

As usual, we have had to adapt the Dieri translation so that the words could fit the melody, so here is the third verse in Dieri:

Partyarnali thayirna
Trainanhi thana ngamayi
Thanali thirti thaparna
Ya thupu thaparna
Nganhi mathari malhantyi
Pulu durnkarna kurrayi
Thana partyarna waparnanhi
Nganhi kurnukurnu ngamayi

Translated into English this means:

They are all eating
As they sit on the train
They are drinking tea
And smoking
I am a bad man
I can’t get away
While they are all going
I am sitting alone

The words and their meanings are the following:

partyarnali means ‘all’ and is the transitive subject form (it consists of the root partyarna ‘all’ plus the ending li which marks transitive subject for roots of three syllables)

thayirna means ‘eating’ and consists of thayi ‘to eat’ plus rna which indicates action at the same time and by the same subject as another action (here linked action in the following line, ‘they sit on the train’)

trainanhi means ‘on the train’, and is the locative form of the word ‘train’ that is borrowed from English

thana means ‘they’ referring to three or more people. This is the intransitive subject form.

ngamayi means ‘sit’ and consists of the root ngama plus the present tense ending yi

thanali means ‘they’ referring to three or more people. This is the transitive subject form.

thirti means ‘tea’ and is an adaptation of the English word. Dieri does not allow words of one syllable (except for ya meantioned below — there have to be at least two vowels in each Dieri word) and does not allow words to start with t so the adapted form become thirti

thaparna means ‘to take into the body by mouth without chewing’ (in contrast to thayirna ‘to eat, to take into the body by mouth with chewing. Here it occurs with thirti ‘tea’ so it means ‘drink’. In the next line it occurs with thupu ‘smoke’ and it means ‘to suck into the mouth’

ya means ‘and’

thupu means ‘smoke’. It’s meaning was extended in Dieri when they met Europeans who had pipes and cigarettes and so now thupu thaparna means ‘to smoke (a cigarette or pipe)’

nganhi means ‘I’. This is the intransitive subject form.

mathari means ‘man’. Strictly speaking it can only be used for men who have been initiated (uninitiated men are called kanku ‘boy). Notice that karna translates as ‘man’ in English but it is a general term for any Aboriginal human being (male or female).

malhantyi means ‘bad’.

pulu means ‘cannot’. It is the opposite of kantyi ‘can’.

durnkarna means ‘to go out, to come out, to emerge’.

kurrayi means ‘to go away’ when used in combination with a verb of moving, like durnkarna. Notice that there is also another verb kurra-rna which is transitive and means ‘to put’.

waparnanhi means ‘going’ — it consists of the root wapa to go and the ending -rnanhi meaning ‘event happening at the same time with a different subject.

kurnukurnu means ‘alone’ and is a repeated version of the word kurnu meaning ‘one, alone’ (see also this post on numbers).

ngamayi means ‘is sitting’ and consists of the root ngama ‘to sit’ and the ending -yi indicating present tense, a situation happening now.

There is one more verse to this song and we will look at it in a future post.

Folsom Prison mandru

johnny_cash
In a previous post we looked at the first verse of the Dieri translation of the Johnny Cash song “Folsom Prison Blues”. In this post we will look at how Greg Wilson and the Dieri Elders based in Port Augusta have translated the second verse of the song (we had a go at singing it at the third workshop in Adelaide on 4th April but have not yet made a proper recording).

Nganhi kupa nganarnanhi, ngandri yatharna wanthiyi
“Kanku ngumu ngamamayi, wata makitanhi pirkirna”
Renonhi mathari palirnanhi ngathu nhayiyi
Ngathu traina ngararna nganhi matya yindrayi

Translated into English this means:

When I was a child (my) mother said
“Be a good boy, without playing with guns”
In Reno I saw a man die
When I hear the train I just cry

As mentioned for Verse 1, this is not exactly the same as the original Johnny Cash song as it had to be adjusted it to fit the Dieri words to the tune.

The words and their meanings are the following:

nganhi means ‘I’ when it is used with a situation that only involves a single participant (used with an ‘intransitive verb’ — for this grammatical distinction review this post)

kupa means ‘child’

nganarnanhi consists of the verb root ngana ‘to be’ plus the ending -rnanhi which is used to link together two events that occur at the same time and involve different subjects — here ‘I’ and ‘mother’

ngandri means ‘mother’

yatharna wanthiyi means ‘said long ago’ and consists of the root yatha-rna ‘to say, tell’ and the element wanthiyi that means ‘action done a long time ago’

kanku means ‘boy’

ngumu means ‘good’

ngamamayi is the order form of the verb ngama-rna ‘to sit’ so it means ‘(you) sit down!’

wata means ‘not’

makitanhi consists of makita meaning ‘gun’ (it comes from the English word “musket”) plus the ending -nhi meaning ‘with’

pirkirna means ‘play’ and includes the ending -rna which is used to link together two events that occur at the same time and involve the same subject — here ‘you sit down and you don’t play with guns’

Renonhi consists of Reno plus the ending -nhi meaning ‘in, at’

mathari means ‘young man’

palirnanhi consists of the root pali ‘to die’ plus the ending -rnanhi which is used to link together two events that occur at the same time and involve the different subjects — here ‘a young man dies and I see it’

ngathu means ‘I’ when it is used with an action that affects someone or something else (used with a ‘transitive verb’)

nhayiyi consists of the root nhayi ‘to see’ plus the ending -yi which indicates something happening now (‘present tense’)

traina means ‘train’ and comes from English (remember Dieri words need to end in a vowel so we add a here. Also, Dieri does not indicate ‘the’ or ‘a’ like English does.)

ngararna means ‘hearing’ — it consists of the verb root ngara ‘to hear’ and the ending -rnanhi which is used to link together two events that occur at the same time and involve the different subjects — here ‘the train comes and I hear it’

nganhi means ‘I’ when it is used with a situation that only involves a single participant (used with an ‘intransitive verb’)

matya means ‘already, just’

yindrayi means ‘cry’ — it consists of the verb root yindra and the ending -yi which indicates something happening now (‘present tense’)

In later posts we will discuss Verse 3 and Verse 4 of this song.

Folsom Prisonanhi

Dakota Warren (on ukelele) and Chris Dodd (on guitar) lead the singing on Sunday

Dakota Warren (on ukelele) and Chris Dodd (on guitar) accompany singing in Dieri

At the language workshop last weekend (16th and 17th March) for part of the time we worked on singing a Dieri version of the Johnny Cash song “Folsom Prison Blues”. Greg Wilson and the Port Augusta group had translated the whole song into Dieri last year, and Peter Austin had checked the translation, so we were ready to call on Chris Dodd to accompany the 45 attendees in singing it.

The song is a bit challenging because it contains some quite complex grammatical constructions (and long words) so we looked at the words and their meanings and then how these could be fitted to the tune. We practised several times and in the end made a good recording of the first verse. Here it is:

Here are the words in Dieri:

Ngathu traina ngarayi yara wakararnanhi

Ngathu wata dityi nhayirna warayi

Jailanhi nganha kurrarna Folsom Prisonanhi

Ya traina wapayilha San Antonaya

Translated into English this means:

I hear a train coming this way
I didn’t see the sun
(They) put me in Folsom Prison jail
And the train is now going to San Antone

Notice this is not exactly the same as the original Johnny Cash song as it had to be adjusted it to fit the Dieri words to the tune.

The words and their meanings are the following:

ngathu means ‘I’ when it is used with an action that affects someone or something else (used with a ‘transitive verb’)

traina means ‘train’ and comes from English (remember Dieri words need to end in a vowel so we add a here. Also, Dieri does not indicate ‘the’ or ‘a’ like English does.)

ngarayi means ‘hear’ — it consists of the verb root ngara ‘to hear’ and the ending -yi which marks something happening now (the ‘present tense’)

yara means ‘towards the speaker, this way’ (discussed here)

wakararnanhi means ‘coming’ — it consists of the verb root wakara ‘to come’ and the ending -rnanhi which means ‘something happening at the same time as another event but with a different subject’. We use this form because the person who hears (in this case ‘I’) is different from the one who comes (in this case ‘train’).

wata means ‘not’

dityi means ‘sun’ (and also ‘day, daylight’)

nhayirna warayi means ‘saw’ and refers to an action that took place earlier in the day

Jailanhi means ‘in jail’ and consists of jaila from English ‘jail’ (with the necessary final a) and the ending -nhi which means ‘in or at a place’

nganha means ‘me’ and is the object of an action (transitive verb)

kurrarna means ‘put’ — this is the dictionary form and would normally be followed by a word showing the time when the action took place. Here it is left out as it is clear from the context, but if we wanted to we could include wanthiyi ‘action which happened a long time ago’, to give us kurrarna wanthiyi. (Notice also that the people who put me in jail are not mentioned — in Dieri we don’t have to include the agent who does an action if it is clear from the context, or if it is an unspecified person like English ‘they’ (‘they put me in jail’, ‘they say he is sick’). In English we might use what is called a ‘passive verb’ when we don’t want to mention the agent, as in ‘I was put in jail’. Dieri has no passive of this type, so an unclear agent is simply left out and the rest of the sentence stays the same.)

Folsom Prisonanhi is the English ‘Folsom Prison’ (with the required final vowel a added) plus the Dieri -nhi ending signalling ‘in or at a place’

ya means ‘and’

wapayilha means ‘is going now’ and consists of the verb root wapa ‘to go’ plus the endings -yi ‘action happening now, present tense’ and -lha ‘new information that the speaker thinks the hearer does not know’

San Antonaya is English ‘San Antone’ plus final a and the ending -ya which indicates ‘direction towards a place’, so ‘to San Antone’

We will discuss the translations of other verses of this song in later posts.

Mangathandra, pilpiri, pantya, thidna

In 2011-12 Greg Wilson and the Dieri Resources Development Group in Port Augusta translated a number of children’s songs into Dieri for use in language teaching. At the ILS workshop in Adelaide last month we were able to record the participants singing one of these songs. Here it is:

mangathandra

Here are the Dieri words:

mangathandra pilpiri
pantya thidna
pantya thidna
pantya thidna
mangathandra pilpiri
pantya thidna
tharlpa milki mudlha

This is made up of:

mangathandra meaning ‘head’
pilpiri meaning ‘shoulder’
pantya meaning ‘knee’
thidna meaning ‘foot’
tharlpa meaning ‘ear’
milki meaning ‘eye’
mudlha meaning ‘nose’

Notice that in Dieri you don’t have to specify how many items you are talking about so a word like pilpiri means ‘shoulder’ or ‘shoulders’, and pantya means ‘knee’ or ‘knees’. If you want to be explicit about the number then there are two endings you can use:

-wurlu means ‘two’
-wara means ‘three or more’

So, pantyawurlu means ‘two knees’ and pantyawara means ‘three or more knees’.

We can use these ending with words referring to people as well: kankuwurlu ‘two boys, a pair of boys’, or mankarrawara ‘three or more girls’.

Try to sing along to the Dieri song and do the actions of putting your hands on the correct part of the body at the same time.

Diyari wima

At the Dieri Aboriginal Corporation workshop in Adelaide last month (as reported on previously) we had a session on singing some songs in the Dieri language. Previously, Greg Wilson and the Port Augusta group had translated some children’s songs, including ‘Old MacDonald’s farm’, and we were able this time to get everone together to practice and record them. In the process we learnt about some aspects of Dieri grammar and pronunciation, as well as having a lot of fun.

images

You can listen to the first verse of the song here:

Here are the words in Dieri:

pinarru Donaldaya pamanhi
a – i – a – i – u
puluka marpu marla tharkayi
a – i – a – i – u
muu muu nhawuya
muu muu nhawuwa
nhawuya nhawuwa
thanaparra muu muu
pinarru Donaldaya pamanhi
a – i – a – i – u

Here is the translation:

On old man Donald’s farm
a – i – a – i – u
Many cattle are standing around
a – i – a – i – u
Moo moo this one
Moo moo that one
This one that one
They all moo moo
On old man Donald’s farm
a – i – a – i – u

The first thing to notice is that Dieri has just three vowel sounds, so we get a, i, and u only in the song (unlike the English version which has “e i e i o”). Note that the Dieri vowels are pronounced short and clear, like in Italian, not like corresponding English letters.

Here are the words of the song and some of the grammar it shows:

pinarru means ‘old man’

Donaldaya consists of Donalda which is the English name “Donald” plus an a because Dieri words must end in a vowel, and the ending -ya which means ‘of, having’ and showing possession or ownership

pamanhi consists of pama which comes from English “farm” (Dieri has no f sound so we use the nearest equivalent p, and all words must end in a vowel) plus the ending -nhi which means ‘in, at’ and indicates location

puluka means ‘cow, cattle’ and comes from English “bullock” (plus the obligatory adding of a final vowel)

marpu means ‘many’

marla means ‘very’ (Notice that modifying elements follow the things they modify in Dieri so ‘very many’ is expressed as marpu marla, literally ‘many very’. In the same way, ‘many old men’ would be pinarru marpu.)

tharkayi consists of tharka ‘to stand’ plus the ending -yi ‘is doing’ which indicates present tense

nhawuya consists of nhawu which means ‘this, he’ and the ending -ya meaning ‘near the speaker’ (this was introduced in the previous blog post where it was used with nhingki ‘here’)

nhawuwa consists of nhawu which means ‘this, he’ and the ending -wa meaning ‘further from the speaker’

thanaparra consists of thana which means ‘those, they’ (when speaking of many things or people) and the ending -parra meaning ‘the ones we were just talking about’

Note that Dieri does not distinguish between ‘this’ and ‘he’ (in Dieri ‘she’ is nhani) or ‘those’ and ‘they’. Also, you can interchange the various endings with these words with a consequent difference in meaning, for example, nhawuparra ‘he who I was just talking about’, nhaniya ‘she who is standing near me’, and so on.

Kudnarri wima

In 1974 the late Leslie Russell sang and explained a number of songs in the Dieri language for Peter Austin. These songs are associated with Cooper Creek in Dieri country to the east of Lake Eyre. Leslie referred to this area as kudnarri, so the songs are called kudnarri wima where wima means ‘song, ceremony’. They are general songs that can be performed any time and can be listened to by anyone.

Each song consists of four lines (which may be repeated), and each line is made up of two words, with each word consisting of two syllables. This means that for some words the endings we would normally use in speaking are missing in the song (so all verbs consist of just the root, without any of the usual endings). Each song is about some event or happening that Leslie witnessed, and usually they evoke one or more images, rather than describing a scene in detail.

wirlu

One of the songs is about wirlu the bird called ‘curlew’ (its full English name is Bush Stone Curlew or Bush Thick-knee, and its scientific name is Burhinus grallarius).

Here are the words of the song:

wirlu wirlu
pirna purka
marna karta
ngathu ngara

This means:

Curlew curlew
A big one is wading
The sound of his call
I am hearing

and it is made up of these words:

wirlu ‘curlew’

pirna ‘big’

purka ‘wade in water’ (this is the root of the verb which normally occurs as purka-rna ‘to wade in water’ or purka-yi ‘is wading in water’)

marna ‘mouth’

karta ‘cracking sound’ (this refers to any short sharp sound of something cracking — you can hear an example of the curlew’s call below)

ngathu ‘I’ (used when I perform an action)

ngara ‘hear’ (this is the root of the verb which normally occurs as ngara-rna ‘to hear’ or ngara-yi ‘is hearing, is listening’

This song evokes the beautiful image of Leslie listening to the curlew calling out as it wades in the water of Cooper Creek. When speaking Dieri, rather than singing, we would say:

Wirlu pirna purkayi. Marna karta ngathu ngarayi

Here is a short video of curlews making their distinctive calls: