Note to readers: This is the fourth in a continuing series introducing readers to past and present Aboriginal life in New England. Those who are interested can find a full list of posts by either clicking New England Aboriginal life or, if you want, to read in date order from one up, click on Introducing New England Aboriginal life.
My last post in this series, New England Aboriginal life - introducing language, provided a general introduction to Australia's Aboriginal languages using New England examples to illustrate.
To the untrained ear, Australia's Aboriginal languages sound much the same. It's a bit like French, Spanish and Italian and their myriad dialects. Further, the high number of consonants and the use of double consonants makes life difficult for English speakers. How do you pronounce ng or nd?
My own email address, ndarala, is an Aboriginal word from the Anaiwan language meaning medicine man or knowledge holder. It looks as though it should be pronounced n-da-rala, but in fact its n-dala. I won't attempt to give the full phonetics. Indeed, I couldn't! But you see what I mean.
I am personally very bad at languages. I have set myself the task of learning the basics of one language just to help me when I have to use Aboriginal words. But that's going to take time!
Very few Australians have actually heard an Aboriginal language spoken outside a few welcomes to country or the occasional media report. Very few New Englanders have any knowledge of New England's Aboriginal languages in general or of the language or languages spoken in their own area. I think that's a pity.
I thought that some of my readers might be interested to listen to a story told in an Aboriginal tongue.
Gamilaraay or Kamilaroi to use another name, was spoken on New England's western slopes and plains. It is closely related to the adjoining language Yuwaalaraay.
The story of the loss and partial recovery of Gamilaraay is a story I will tell in another post. It is a sad story, but also a glad one.
For the moment, if you would like to hear both Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay spoken, please go to Guwaabal, stories. The main narrator is John Giacon, a person who played a major role in the recovery and revival of Gamilaraay.