What do you want?

Here’s a gem from a tape I was listening to a few days ago. I’d better not say who the linguist was, and I don’t know who the speaker was. He was elderly in the mid 1960s.

Linguist: How do you say “what do you want”?

Speaker: Anggi liyan min.. I mean anggi liyan ngan .. no no, you ask me what I want. [yes] And I say liyanngan mayi.

Translated: what do you want .. I mean what do I want, no … And I say I want tucker.

The Linguist is now thoroughly confused.

It gets better.

Linguist: What do you two want?

Speaker: oh, they’re probably going fishing. Anggi liyan gurrimana wiliwili.. [you want fishing line]

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2 responses to “What do you want?

  1. Ah, isn’t that the fun of elicitation? Genuine confusion from all sides and the eventual drawing of schematic diagrams depicting “us two” acting on “you singular”, or “all of us but not you” looking at “they two non-sibling same-sex people”, all for the purpose of filling out a free and bound pronoun paradigm.

  2. I’m living in Ardiyooloon and learn Bardi words when I can. That made me giggle! The quandaries of abstract questions!

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