Some time ago I mentioned that I would blog about the name/term Goolarrabooloo. It’s a Yawuru/Jugun clan name, it seems.

First up, morphology. Goolarra means ‘west’, and -(a)booloo is a kind of collective denizen suffix; X-booloo translates as “people belonging to X”. X is most often a compass point, but it can also be an environment term (e.g. biindan ‘bush’ or iinalang ‘island’). It’s in several Nyulnyulan languages, including Nyulnyul, Yawuru and Nyikina. It’s also in Bardi, although due to sound change it ends up as -ol (*-abu- > -awu- > -o- and final vowels drop in many environments). Ardiyooloon has this suffix, although for the life of me I don’t know why this word isn’t Ardiyolon. Ardiyol is the Bardi name for the people who live in the north-east (ardi). It’s also cognate with the Nyikina word Wardiyabooloo, which means ‘people of the north-west’ (draw a point that’s north-east of somewhere on the Dampier peninsula and north-west of Derby and you get roughly the same area). So, Wardiyabooloo/Ardiyol refers to roughly the same area.

Goolarrabooloo is a bit different, though. There are several places denoted by Goolarrabooloo, and the location depends on the language. So, Bardi Goolarrabooloo isn’t the same area as Yawuru Goolarrabooloo (because west of Bardi is Cape Leveque, but West of Yawuru is much further south). Note that this is different from Ardiyol, which does have a defined location even when the language differs.

Finally, I mentioned that -booloo could go on terms other than compass points. Biindonolo are people from somewhere on teh mainland (it’s a specific place, but not mentioned in the text I have it from, and the people I asked didn’t know exactly where it referred to). Iinalabooloo (< *iinalangbooloo) always refers to the islands just east of One Arm Point


3 responses to “Goolarrabooloo

  1. so it’s like the suffix -mob in Kriol (also Aboriginal English?) which might be like the suffix -watj in Wagilak?? (My favourite usage being something like ‘gapumirriwatj’ – grog mob).

    So ‘goolarrabooloo’ is like saying ‘sun-go-down mob’ in Kriol? Which makes sense that for each language group, their ‘sun-go-down mob’ would be a different group of people…

  2. mob can be used on places, right? Like “Christmas Creek mob”? I don’t think that’s possible for -(a)bulu. There’s -watj in Yan-nhaŋu too, but it’s only used on verbs as far as I know, and it means something like “the whole thing”. So biyawatj is “eat it all up”.
    That’s a good point about ‘sun-go-down’. I wonder if East does similar things in Nyikina. It’s baniyol in Bardi.

  3. I haven’t actually heard it myself yet, but it sounds as though it’s similar to Wagiman -ubawo which is glossed, I think, as ‘belonging to X (place)’.

    ‘Collective denizen’ suffix, that sounds like an appropriate name.

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