Category Archives: Kimberley region

Community vignette

Every so often I get a really good example of how tourists do really odd (and off) things that it would never occur to them to do in their own suburbs. Things like driving round the streets taking photos of the locals. There was a pretty good example last week. Some chick about my age came into the school carrying a puppy that looked rather like the one I’ve seen at Bessie’s house. She asked at the office if it belonged to anyone in the community, because “I’ve been looking for a dog and I’d like to take this one.” The office set her straight that it did, in fact, belong to someone (you’d think the fact that it was clean and well-fed – i,e, that the chick with her designer shirt was willing to pick it up – might be a clue that it belonged to someone). When I left a short time later I had a stickybeak in her car and the dog wasn’t with her, so I take it that Jayirri ended up back home ok.

Look, people, communities are places where people live, and they aren’t places for white people to come and pinch stuff and generally gawk and behave like jerks.


Sorry for the suspense. A fourth termite appeared, but apparently they want to remain within the numbers that Bardi has, as there were no others. I think they were an exploratory party going up the phone line, or maybe they were trying to get a better view of the Hawthorn-Adelaide game – “an enthralling contest” with a great deal of “thrust and parry”.

Laves project web page

I’ve started a page for the Laves materials project. It’s still a draft at this stage but more material will go up as the project progresses. You can reach it here:

New Language!

Well, not really, but it was new to me, and it was a bit of a shock.

This post was originally going to be a bit of a rant about “people” who don’t catalogue their tapes, or record who’s speaking on the tape (or what the language is). I’ve been at AIATSIS for the past couple of days trying to sort out some Nimanburru recordings that ended up going astray.

The flipside of unlabelled tapes is that it’s extremely exciting to start up a track and to find it’s a language that’s very familiar. In this case, it was a language called “Nyindinyindi”. Turns out that the person auditioning the tapes misheard the place name. They’d recorded it as “Tinder Bay”, but it’s Pender Bay (which is in the Southwest of Bardi Country, where the language is called “Bardi coming up Nyulnyul”). This recording is Pender Bay Bard(i), aka the language of people called Goowalgarr or Olonggon, and it’s other wise unrecorded. The man speaking is named by first name only (email me if you need more details) and it’s clearly a dialect of Bardi different from what’s been recorded elsewhere. I’d never seen the name Nyindinyindi – it’s not in Tindale, or Nekes and Worms, or any of the other sources for this part of the world. I’m going to Sydney next week to look at the Elkin notebooks.

The kick in the teeth was that when I googled “Pender Bay” I say it’s a proposed area for a major gas processing plant. It’s beautiful country, we spent a day there on one of my field trips. It’ll change the whole peninsula, maybe for the better, with increased access (which might bring down the price of food and freight costs a bit), but potentially for the worse too.

What do you want?

Here’s a gem from a tape I was listening to a few days ago. I’d better not say who the linguist was, and I don’t know who the speaker was. He was elderly in the mid 1960s.

Linguist: How do you say “what do you want”?

Speaker: Anggi liyan min.. I mean anggi liyan ngan .. no no, you ask me what I want. [yes] And I say liyanngan mayi.

Translated: what do you want .. I mean what do I want, no … And I say I want tucker.

The Linguist is now thoroughly confused.

It gets better.

Linguist: What do you two want?

Speaker: oh, they’re probably going fishing. Anggi liyan gurrimana wiliwili.. [you want fishing line]


Some time ago I mentioned that I would blog about the name/term Goolarrabooloo. It’s a Yawuru/Jugun clan name, it seems.

First up, morphology. Goolarra means ‘west’, and -(a)booloo is a kind of collective denizen suffix; X-booloo translates as “people belonging to X”. X is most often a compass point, but it can also be an environment term (e.g. biindan ‘bush’ or iinalang ‘island’). It’s in several Nyulnyulan languages, including Nyulnyul, Yawuru and Nyikina. It’s also in Bardi, although due to sound change it ends up as -ol (*-abu- > -awu- > -o- and final vowels drop in many environments). Ardiyooloon has this suffix, although for the life of me I don’t know why this word isn’t Ardiyolon. Ardiyol is the Bardi name for the people who live in the north-east (ardi). It’s also cognate with the Nyikina word Wardiyabooloo, which means ‘people of the north-west’ (draw a point that’s north-east of somewhere on the Dampier peninsula and north-west of Derby and you get roughly the same area). So, Wardiyabooloo/Ardiyol refers to roughly the same area.

Goolarrabooloo is a bit different, though. There are several places denoted by Goolarrabooloo, and the location depends on the language. So, Bardi Goolarrabooloo isn’t the same area as Yawuru Goolarrabooloo (because west of Bardi is Cape Leveque, but West of Yawuru is much further south). Note that this is different from Ardiyol, which does have a defined location even when the language differs.

Finally, I mentioned that -booloo could go on terms other than compass points. Biindonolo are people from somewhere on teh mainland (it’s a specific place, but not mentioned in the text I have it from, and the people I asked didn’t know exactly where it referred to). Iinalabooloo (< *iinalangbooloo) always refers to the islands just east of One Arm Point

Two unusual articles

Notice anything about this article? or this one?

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