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Learning To Sing | Song, Favourite, Sing, Language, Shells, Looked, Notes, Over | FATSILC, Fed. Aboriginal Torres Strait Island Languages and Culture
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Learning To Sing
Learning To Sing

Learing to Sing:

When he sang for me, goanna (minh thatpak) or one of the other songs I'd ask him what it meant. Instead of telling me the words, as I wanted, he'd sing me the song again over and over

The fact is, there is no short cut you have to listen over and over to learn you hads to perform it
You had to do it
You had to sing it yourself
You had to do the best you could

It was a good lesson and one I never forgot: a song is a song is a song

A complete thing

You had to learn it as a thing itself...

Learning To Sing
Don't Split Words

You're not to split it up


it's all one thing

it takes a long time to learn a song properly, all the references, all the levels and shades of meaning

Maybe the task is endless.

One day you can be singing to yourself when suddenly you say to yourself, 'Ah, I see'.

Meanings are difficult you can't be told, you have to experience them yourself.

A song is a part of life, just as language is.
As they say, 'you've got yo be in it to win it'.

Learning To Sing

kug(u) - uthu; dead body

pama ago thugu
wakanh/ agu manu pengeke wakanh
mongkom men gave dogs names

kam waya (uw: kem wayya)

kompo - devil
minha manu wunpan - scrub turkey
miniha thukan wang(g) ayj - file snake
monke - bandicoot
minha kimpu - 'jackass'
of Kug(u) - uthu/wik - lyanh

Learning To Sing

Thanpa Yonk

Jue Ng with Rodney K
Byron Bay Feb 1970

Upside down ironwood tree

devils (mutjuwa)
dance on roots
Kug - uthu (dead body dan)

Ironwood fork left (wanta) at madhakan (wanam)

Learning To Sing
Feild Notes

Every Language is finely aHuned to the land in which it is spoken, the phenomena that occur there, its life forms, its atmospherics.

Yet language does not merly reflect it does'nt merly name the fact is, a language creates the world in which it is spoken.

There are as many worlds as there are languages.

Learning To Sing
Naming our Favourite Things

Naming your favourite things;

A question I would like to ask everyone who has experienced an Aboriginal language (I should say for the worlds I have experienced, the play of languages) what their favourite words are, place names, dog names, words for things, people, animal, groups, feelings, their favourite expressions, the concepts and ideas that only appear in those languages, the words for greed, different forms of clouds, surfaces, shapes, the use of comparisons, the world of "can't be", as peole say in English. For lurking at the heart of Aboriginal English are ideas and ways of thinking other.

Learning To Sing
Names, Shells and Numbers

Names & shells/names & numbers

The beach was piled high with shells (they called it raak ekka)

It diddnt take muck to encourage me to make a collection.

For the most part they were bleached white.

I put each different kind of shell in a different bag and gave is a number.

Everything got name he said approvinglly, everything got number.

But it wasn't number, he was talking about was napa (name)

He had another favourite expression: "good name somewhere".

Learning To Sing
Field Notes

He Considered every shell most carefully, turning it over and over in his hand.

There was no rush, no sign of impatience.

When he didn't know he'd head off and ask one of the women I soon got the impression women knew more about shells than the men. It made sense.

Once he wnt to the consult with Alice Ch. I could see them conferring in the distance when he returned I asked him, "So...?" he looked at me
"I forget", he said and headed off to consult again.

Some shells that looked very different to my eye all had the smae name but of the bivalves (mussels) that looked the same had clearly different names.

 'Field Notes #2', John von Sturmer, 2009