Jun 2008 - Lily Neville PDF Print E-mail

Adnyamathanha Ngawarla Lily Neville
Adnyamathanha Ngawarla
Adnyamathanha is the language and culture of the Flinders Ranges, and one of the essential resources for understanding that region. It is a close living relative of Adelaide’s Kaurna language. Adnyamathanha language has only around twenty fluent living speakers and will become extinct if it is not passed on. Adnyamathanha is an important part of Australia’s heritage that should be sustained, living and treasured.

Adnyamathanha Ngawarla Yarramalka is a grassroots, community-driven language course. The students are elders, parents, youth and children. Most are Adnyamathanha. Students of all backgrounds are welcome.

Adnyamathanha Ngawarla Yarramalka means Adnyamathanha language message stick. The name brings back the ancient Adnyamathanha term yarramalka to name a course that will communicate across generations and to the wider Australian communities.

‘Yura, utnyu nganhamatha wapu witniarlpurla, apmaapmanhamangarintha mitawiri. Althaaltha, mankimankitha. Inha ampu utyu warntuninhangantha.’
‘Now let us live in harmony, yura and utnyu together. We’ll get around, making friends with each other. Happy and rejoicing. These days it’s getting better.’


Adnyamathanha Ngawarla Lily Neville
Adnyamathanha Ngawarla Lily Neville
For more information go to http://www.adnyamathanha.com/

My name is Lily Neville. I live in Quorn. I am third child and eldest daughter of the late Claude Demell and Ethel Demell (née Ryan). I am now a widow. I am a mother of three, grandmother of six and foster grandmother of two. My husband Robert Henry Neville passed away in 2003 after thirty-eight years
of marriage. I have lived most of my life in Quorn. My husband and I have been foster parents of twelve children, and I alone was a foster mum for forty years.

As I was growing up, I was always spoken to by my elders in our language. Communication had no barrier. I do have the idea of learning or teaching Adnyamathanha language and I do feel I have come far. It is so pleasing to be able to communicate with utnyus (non-Indigenous people). When I first met Dr Bernhard Schebeck I was so overwhelmed at how well he spoke in Adnyamathanha. It was like speaking to my dad and all my elders. Wow. My parents and eldest brother would have been pleased. I met Bernhard because one of his consultants was my dad’s sister, my dear auntie, May Wilton of Beltana.

As a hobby or entertainment back in the 1950s me, my mother, brothers, auntie and cousins used to do a lot of translations and it was one of life’s enjoyments for us. Now, all that has paid off for me. It is of great importance to me to teach our beautiful Adnyamathanha ngawarla and I am very proud of my background and upbringing.

I was born at Nepabunna, right in the heart of the Adnyamathanha land, to very loving parents and brother and grandparents, to whom I truly dedicate my work. I also dedicate it to my dear husband, always there to help me out with English words. Whenever the going got tough, I recall him saying things like, ‘Gawd, woman, you are writing a dictionary, and you can’t spell that word!’ Well, he got more than his two bob’s worth, as the saying goes. ‘You’re an utnyu with high school education. I only went to grade four primary. All I need is some help with spelling!’ Poor darling, now that wasn’t his fault, aye? Well, he felt sorry for me and would write down the English words for me.

We got on quite well, as husbands and wives do, as sadly was until death us did part. My husband was more utnyu than yura, but he was part Kookatha. Good bloke too. As I told this important person who asked was he white or Aboriginal, he was a comeback boomerang. The fella was a
bit puzzled. Well, I had thought he was an utnyu white man, but it turns out he had a full blood Aboriginal grandmother,
a Kookatha lady from a wonderful group of families. On the white side was a wonderful group of families too, so I couldn’t ask for more.

I miss my husband and his uncanny ways. We often used to sing along together, always singing that song:


We ain’t got a barrel of money
Maybe we’re ragged and funny

But we’ll travel along

Singing a song

Side by Side

Adnyamathanha Ngawarla Lily Neville This is an extract from a book published by Australians Against Racism as part of a project to revitalise and raise general awareness of Adnyamathanha Ngawarla