practising Bardi

Bard arr ngankiya Ardiyooloonngan laamba, agal liyan nganman barnngan mayoon Baarding ngaanka. Ginyinggamba Baarding ngayoo milimil ngonkowa Yan-nhaŋunharraŋu! Arragorror joonim nyimoonggoon mayimbaran milimil jarri, anjilngangay! Ngalamanka ooloomanjin ngaanka, jawal, agal ngangalgan. Ngayarginjan ngayanyja anggarda ngayilnga.

Milimil ngaankang nganjalagal: 5

[Rationale/sort of translation: I’m going to One Arm Point before too long so need to get back into the habit of speaking Bardi. But I keep getting Yan-nhaŋu interference. Therefore the odd post will be in Bardi.]

4 responses to “practising Bardi

  1. Claire,
    for a non-native speaker, which do you thing is the more difficult to learn, Bardi or Yan-hangu?
    That is, assuming they are equally well resourced, which they probably aren’t.

  2. My gut reaction was Yan-nhaŋu, hands down, but thinking about it I’m not sure. It took me a long time to internalise the verb conjugations so I could ‘do’ verbs without a long pause, but once I got the hang of that a whole bunch of things fell into place. For Yan-nhaŋu, though, I understand the words and can put words in a sentence but I always feel like I’m faking it at some level. In Bardi I have intuitions about stylistics, not just grammaticality but how native speakers would express something (I’m sure they aren’t all right, or even mostly right, but they’re there) but in Yan-nhaŋu I usually have no idea if that’s what someone would say. Also, I think the codeswitching rules are different, so in Bardi it’s possible to ‘cheat’ by using an English word, but Yan-nhaŋu people codeswitching with Dhuwal and Burarra, neither of which I speak.
    It’s probably not a fair comparison though, since I learnt Bardi primarily by editing Gedda Aklif’s texts (and then the dictionary supplement), so I was focused on the start with a lot of material at a fairly complex level. For Yan-nhaŋu it was basic elicitation and I’ve only been around it for a few years. Also, I think at this stage I have a better idea about how to circumlocute for stuff I don’t know the word for – e.g. I don’t how how to say sarcophagic bacteria in either language but I think if I said moorroolangarr anggi nyiyordab irlin agal ambooriny jin baangga that’d be comprehensible, but I’d have about 10 questions about whether something like gulkuruŋu ŋumun’, dhana bäyŋu mana ben rumbal ga [skin] was ok (and it took the time it took to type it to work out the Bardi : little tiny whatsits that eat your flesh, but the Yan-nhaŋu took much longer.)

    Sooo… I guess the answer is that I think it’s easier to make more quick progress in Yan-nhaŋu initially, but past, say, advanced beginner level it evens out very quickly and maybe swings in the opposite direction when it comes to speaking idiomatically.

    Incidentally, this reminds me of a conversation I had in the classics tea room one day about whether Greek was harder than Latin or vice versa. There was general agreement that Greek started harder but kept getting easier, whereas Latin always felt a bit foreign even when the person knew it really well.

    What do you think about Gija vs Jaru?

  3. I can relate to this answer massively. My guess was that the pama-nungan language would be easier, perhaps up to a certain level… but?. Jaru was definitely easier at first. Gija was a killer because of the fused S->O transitive prefixes verbal prefixes. Then we have TAM inflections fused with both verbal prefixes and Verb stems. It’s a lot to commit to memory, and there is probably no alternative other than to rote learn those inflecting verbs. Having said that, there aren’t so many of them to remember.
    It took me years to learn to speak Gija and I reckon I’ve already forgotten how to converse. Hard to say, I’m not surrounded by it any more.
    Jaru on the other hand is a range of lects. I reckon I spoke no-one’s Jaru. I was a kind of horrible mix of eastern and western dialects, whatever forms I used to like best. The different dialects also used to align differently in terms of case. I remember thinking that I would need to do a lot to improve my Jaru. It was reasonably fluent but reeaaaaally bodgy. And my lexicon was really small. Loads of Kriol borrowings. It’s an easy language to talk badly. Even though Gija was harder, I used to feel more confident that what I was saying was acceptable.
    Murriny Patha on the other hand is the absolute killer. I don’t think I’ll never learn to speak it properly.
    The other languages allow you to say quite a lot without verbs. Murriny Patha is verb-heavy in so many ways. And you can’t just borrow a Kriol or English verb like grabem and stuff it into the verb complex, like you can with the other two (and presumably Bardi too). It’s kind of all or nothing.
    Too hard will ya?

  4. I wonder if it’s just that the cognitive load of the irregular morphology makes us pay attention to other things too, so that it’s a kind of language-learning bootstrapping.

    Yep, lots of Kriol verb borrowings in Bardi. I tried it in Yan-nhaŋu and got growled, though…

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