Janabooroo?

There’s a new housing development at Cable Beach (basically = Broome) which has involved negotiation with traditional owners. Thanks to the settlement of a Native Title Claim earlier this week, Rubibi land corporation and Yawuru people are recognised as the traditional owners. There’s a short article about it here. Yawuru is an Eastern Nyulnyulan language, and reasonably close to Bardi. Clos enough that I can understand about half of what’s said when people are speaking at a reasonable pace, and just about all of a formulaic speech like the one that was given at the opening of the FEL conference in Broome a few years ago. The name of the subdivision is Janaburu Six Seasons. Six seasons, presumably, because Nyulnyulan cosmology involves dividing the year into six seasons (turtle mating time, the wet, the end of the wet, the pre-cold season just before the wind shifts, the cold season of SE winds, and the warming up time). But janaburu? This means ‘where’! Unless it’s the equivalent of Bardi ngajana booroo, ‘my place, my country’, in which case it’s just twee. Booroo/buru means ‘place’ or ‘land’ in both languages, and jana is the first person possessive pronoun. In Bardi it’s more usually ngajana when in isolation, and ‘where’ is jana or janabooroo. In fact, I remember making this mistake once, when NI asked ‘anggabanim jin banigin?’ (whose cup) and I answered jana, to which she answered nyoonoo ‘here’. I should have said ngajana. Maybe it’s different in Yawuru, or maybe they just came up with a silly name for a housing development. Or both.

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