girri’

[Continuing my clean-out of partial posts in my livewriter folder…]

Girri’ means ‘clothes’ in Yan-nhaŋu; it also means ‘stuff’, as I found out yesterday when we were looking for general terms for the thesaurus. It’s interesting, though, that I’d never come across the context for the more general (and perhaps more focal meaning) during elicitation and conversation. I think there are a few reasons. One is that I did a bunch of elicitation a while ago with ‘same’ or ‘different’ involving dresses and clothes, so it has focal semantics for me through that. Also, I did colour elicitation talking about shirts. Second, though, whenever anyone used a sentence in Yan-nhaŋu involving ‘stuff’ (where I’d say stuff in English), they used ŋumun’ “something” and then a more specific word.

It’s a nice illustration of how language learning can be semantically misleading.

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6 responses to “girri’

  1. What does the final apostrophe mean? Glottal stop? Tone?

  2. It’s a glottal stop. In theory. It’s not entirely straightforward. Some claim it’s a prosodic feature, others that it’s a segment with a weird distribution.

  3. Perhaps ‘stuff’ is too broad. It sounds like girri’ is like Warlpiri jurnarrpa which is the word for ‘clothes’ but also means ‘belongings, gear’; and so ‘stuff’ as in “Get your stuff and come along!’ but not “What is the stuff in this bottle?”.

  4. Yeah, the broader meaning of girri’ might be like ‘enijing’ in Kriol as in, ‘ai garra gajim main enijing’ (I’ll get my things), which is different from ‘ai garra gajim samthing’ (I’ve got to get something).

  5. Hey, Algerian Arabic has just the same polysemy – Hwayej = clothes = stuff. “Clothes” is definitely the focal meaning there, though, at least to my mind.

  6. David Marjanović

    In German, too, there’s a word that means “stuff” (as general as in English) in, say, Austria, but “clothes” at least along the middle Rhine, and a few hundred years ago it must have meant “military equipment”.

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