Multilingual gem

Today’s post is also about Bardi. I now have 50 of the Laves stories fully translated and annotated, and about 30 to go, give or take. I’ve written an export macro that converts the texts to LaTeX for proofing on paper.

I think one of the stories I did this morning is my favourite in the whole collection. It’s an image that’s stayed with me from the initial reading of these stories in 2003. Two guys meet by chance across a chasm. One of the guys asks shouts a question in Oowini across the gap. The other doesn’t answer, because he doesn’t speak that language. He yells back something in a different language, which the Oowini guy doesn’t know. Then they both turn into stone. I’m told that’d the fate of not being able to communicate in such circumstances.

(The rocks can still be seen in this area, I’m told, although I’m pretty sure the cliffs in question are on Curtin Air Force Base so I doubt I’ll get to see them in a hurry.)

Such are the perils of not being able to answer when you’re spoken to in a language not your own…

6 responses to “Multilingual gem

  1. That is indeed lovely.

    I see your project will give rise to a scholarly work (original texts, translations, annotations and whatall); any thoughts on something more accessible for the masses? (By which I mean those, like myself, not likely to pay academic prices for interest reading — no disrespect intended.)

    (Here via languagehat, I might be sticking around if you’re posting this sort of material more often. The posts in Bardi… less gripping.)

  2. Two posts in Bardi vs 371 or thereabouts in English and you’re complaining about too much Bardi??

    The book that I’m planning for this project should be fairly accessible. It’s designed primarily for Bardi community members, and it’s up to them how accessible the whole collection is in the long run. I’ll probably be submitting the final book to Aboriginal Studies Press, and their books are usually reasonably priced, although a little hard to find outside Australia. But also, this work is funded by the NSF and quite reasonably they want academic results too.

  3. Nonono! (I should keep my big mouth shut… ) It’s just I can’t /read/ it, you see, so I … right.

    And I understand it’s an academic project, I hadn’t realised the book is (will be) designed for the Bardi community. I was imagining something aimed more at linguists, interlinear glosses and so on, and priced for the academic market (i.e., the sky).

    So cheers for the good news, and apologies for the not-so-funny introduction.

  4. Erp. And, believe it or not, I didn’t intend that smiley. Not my day, apparently.

  5. I’ve edited the smiley.
    I think there is a place for interlinear glossing in community materials, incidentally. They can really help language learners work out what means what if the glosses are straightforward.

  6. Oh hey thanks, that’s much better for my webcred. Glosses: ok, I guess I’m convinced. Maybe I’ll absorb some Bardi osmotically, who knows?

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