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li-Anthawirriyarra... John Bradley | Yanyuwa, Language, Country, Water, Fire, Chicken, Crow, Made | FATSILC, Fed. Aboriginal Torres Strait Island Languages and Culture
li-Anthawirriyarra... John Bradley PDF Print E-mail
Yamulu, marnijingarna jarna-barlirranji Yanyuwa wuka, jarna-wunkanyinji marda, li-wankala libardibardi baki li-malbu kanlu-ngunda ngatha jakarda barra wuka, ngayamantharra li-kularrkularr jalini li-lhungku, nalarrku kalinymaba-mirra wiji warriya li-luku marningarna munanga Yanyuwangala jiwini mulungka ngathangka- OK here I am writing Yanyuwa words, I can also talk this language, the old people, the old men and women have given me many words, now there are only a few of them alive, so many have died the poor things, I am here a white man talking Yanyuwa, these words sit in my mouth.
 li-Anthawirriyarra... John Bradley
Yanyuwa Weather Diagram, John Bradley
As a white person working with the Yanyuwa people of the south west Gulf of Carpentaria I feel I have been blessed with amazing experiences and amazing teachers and mentors. Thirty years ago I went to Borroloola to teach kids in the primary school, those kids are now adults, they all have their own families and some of them are no longer with us. Working at Borroloola in those days I got interested in the language, and the old people were more than happy to teach me, and what a journey it has been. A language with 16 noun classes, a language that has separate ways of speaking for men and women, a language that has special ways of speaking depending whether you are on the mainland or on the islands and sea. However, the more I think about the language over the years, the hardest thing to write about or explain is how the language seems to belong in the land and sea, it is as if it rises up out of the Yanyuwa country. It belongs.

Yanyuwa people are “saltwater people” li- Anthawirriyarra, those people whose spiritual origins come from the sea, the old ladies at Borroloola composed a song about this and they still sing it.

Marnaji ngambala
layirli-nganji waliwaliyangka
We are the people
Whose spirits are from the sea
We are the people who are kin to the island country
(Composed by Dinah Norman, Annie Karrakayny and
Eileen McDinny 1992)
li-Anthawirriyarra... John Bradley
li-Anthawirriyarra... John Bradley
Today only the old people are speaking Yanyuwa all the time, a lot of other people can hear it but they do not speak it. The old people have been really worried about this and I have worked with them now for 30 years trying to work out ways to get younger people interested in Yanyuwa language and culture. We are still working on the Yanyuwa encyclopedia dictionary and it is getting bigger and bigger as the old people think of more things to put in it. We have made two films which have won awards. In 1988 Buwarrala Akarriya (Journey East) was made which is a film about walking back into country that no one had visited since just after the second world war. And in 1992 we made ka-Wayawayama (Aeroplane Dance), which is about Yanyuwa and Garrwa people searching for a crashed Liberator Bomber during the Second World War. With the old people we have also made an atlas of Yanyuwa country so that the young people can read and understand the Law of their country.

Now we are working on some animations, trying to get the young people to sit down and watch stories from their country and to hear the language of their old people and their country. We have made five already. One of the first stories we animated was the Crow and the Chicken Hawk, which is about why people have fire and water. Everyone thinks they know a lot about fire and water but Yanyuwa has so many different words for these things. Buyuka is fire, a word anyone can hear and use, but if you are speaking to you sister or your female cousin or you brother-in-law you have to say wumayangka, and then if you out on the islands you have to say bujibuji. Wabuda is water, but if you speak to those same relatives mentioned above you have to say ngalulu and if you are on the islands the fresh water from the springs is called ngayulu, so speaking Yanyuwa even about common things always keep you on your toes.

With the old people we are hoping to work on more animation so that we can get the young people interested in the stories the old people have. Already the young people are telling us they are really enjoying the animations and they are telling each other the stories. Some of them are even trying to use they Yanyuwa language they hear on the animations.

li-Anthawirriyarra... John Bradley
li-Anthawirriyarra... John Bradley
li-Anthawirriyarra... John Bradley

a-wangka kanda-yibanda kruwangkala, kanda-arri baji wanbudala kulu lankiliardu, kanda-arri alunga “lhaba! lhaba!” malarrkarrka ka-wingka karakarra nakari yijiwungara.

li-Anthawirriyarra... John Bradley
Black Rocks

(Black Rocks) she was there with the fiesa water and her children she said to them, “Be quiet! Be quiet! The Crow hawk has come for the east from the country of yijiwunyarra.”

li-Anthawirriyarra... John Bradley

Malarrkarrka ka-arri baji wudalwanga, ki buyukala. Ka-arri anku “Jaba wabuda! Marningarna warringku! “a-wangka kanda-arri karinya, “kurdardi kurdardi! Jaba buyuka! Jarna-wudurrumanji mawunka!”

li-Anthawirriyarra... John Bradley
The Chicken

The chicken hawk was there at panehlnanuga plain and he had with him fire. He the to call out to the Crow, “Give me water because I am thirsty!” The Crow the to call back from the nest, “No! No! Give me fire because I am eating my food raw.”

li-Anthawirriyarra... John Bradley
The Chicken 2

Alright, this is the way the crow and the chicken hawk the to argue. The crow calling for fire from the west and the chicken hawk calling for water from the east. They argued and then they fought. They fought over the fire and the water.

li-Anthawirriyarra... John Bradley

Bawuji nganinya barra kawnlamba-mirirri, ylwa karakarra anda barra karinya, kawylamba-mirirri, bajingu kawulamba-rama, kaw-u lamba-rama kulu wabuda.


Illustrations by Brent McKee, Chnadara Ung and Tom Chandler and Yanyuwa li-wirdiwalangu (the elders)

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