I’ve been translating and annotating Bardi in preparation for my upcoming trip and something occurred to me this morning. In several texts the hero is creeping through the scrub and making sure he’s not being followed (or about to be attacked), or he’s tracking someone. At each point, the hero is described as doing something like the following:
Barnimin biligiji nilamarra inamana jarr ingalamankana jirrm injoona.
on.all.sides really ear he.put this he.heard sing he.did
Nyoonoo ingalamankana gardi.
here he.listened still
That is, the same array of directional terms that are used for visual ‘looking out’ (e.g. barnimin ‘in all directions’) are used for auditory ‘hearing out’ too. But they sounds weird to me in English:
?He listened this way and that.
??He listened in all directions.
??He listened that way.
It’s not that English doesn’t talk about the directions of sounds (e.g. where’s the sound coming from), it’s that we seem to talk about the variable directional source of the sound, not the perceptual differentiation of direction. innaresting.