Posts from planet Yolŋu

Some thoughts on coming back to Milingimbi. It’s two years since I was last here. Not all that much has changed. It’s a bit more run-down, there are a few more houses (and some army tents at the moment). The phone at the school still doesn’t work and the crows at the phone at bottom camp are just as loud. I’ve lost my immunity to sandflies again, but the bites from 2 hours ago have already gone down and stopped itching, so I should get it back quite quickly. This is important because reactive sandfly bites are extremely itchy and make life extremely unpleasant. I ran into one of the teachers I knew from 2004 and caught up on some of the news.

I put my stuff down in the guesthouse (where I’m staying with some people from Mission Australia, a bunch of nurses and some army guys from Norforce) and when down to say hello to everyone and to see who’s around. That old lady was very happy to see me, as was my mukul (who’s about my age and speaks Yan-nhaŋu about the same amount as I do, so we used to practise together last time). Everyone else was out, either in hospital (with pneumonia, poor thing), in Darwin this week for the holidays, or fishing. It seems that Ŋarritjtjan is the only person who’s passed away since I was last here for that group.

The kids are still friendly, still saying ‘what your name’ as a quasi-greeting. There’s a youth centre, which apparently has internet! The library may also do so, but that’s not clear and I’m not sure it’s open this week during holidays.

I plan to post regularly (or at least to write regularly and post when possible) about how the work is going. The last few days I’ve been going through my transcriptions from last year, and adding missing unglossed words to the dictionary. I did a dump export of all the transcripts and put them into Toolbox, and then created a wordlist for it. 3303 unique items, of which about 300 are junk (e.g. – and English words) and 16,500 words. I’ve been through about  10% and have already added over 100 new dictionary words.

[A blog note: I’m composing these offline using LiveWriter and uploading when I have a chance. No despamming for a while, no link checking, and no post categories. Also, since there was a complaint last time about my posting potentially personal information here, I’ll try to disguise stuff a bit more. Of course, anyone who knows anyone here will be able to work out who I’m talking about, but that probably doesn’t matter since those people would probably already know about it firsthand.]

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