BK Kakadu course 2020

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28 replies
  1. Amber-W
    Amber-W says:

    My skin name is Ngalbulanj and so are my sisters. I don’t have a brother but he would be Nabulanj (just cousin brothers) My mothers skin name is Ngalkamarrang and my Kakkak is Ngalngarridj. Where I am living people are using the Kundedjnjenghmi and Kunwinjku skin systems so this is useful for me to practise switching between them and become more familiar with the Kunwinjku side.

    I have found recording myself and listening back useful and have a few phrases I am wanting to practise with people around town and to check pronunciation. It always sounds a lot better in my head than when it comes out of my mouth! I didn’t know about the h/glottal stop indicating immediate time so that is interesting to know and use.

    Wurdurd kabirrinan kinga.

    Ngahnan nganabbarru kabongun kukku.

  2. Celina-E
    Celina-E says:

    My skin name is Ngalkamarrang. My sister is the same but my brother is Nakamarang. My mother’s skin name is Ngalngarridj and my mother’s mother/kakkak Ngalwamud.Baleh Kanmarneyime?

    I live and work in the same community as Amber-W and am also finding this practice useful as we navigate the different systems use. Instead of Ngalkamarrang I am normally called Bangardidjan or Bangirn. Going through this exercises has been really useful as I am quite visual and often struggle to remember just from someone verbally explaining it to me.

    Nganabbarru kabongun kukku.
    Ngalngarridj, Nakamarang, ngalkamarrang kanan kinga.

  3. Celina-E
    Celina-E says:

    I also had a quick read of the article.

    One thing that our organisation tries hard to do is create resources in Kunwok for people. It is time consuming and at times difficult as most of our support staff do not speak Kunwinjku. Thankfully we have many rangers who do and we work together and build rangers computer literacy through transcribing work, video making etc. However, I believe I see more meaningful engagement from people when they see results and let’s not forget the pride and empowerment. Including language work in the day to day is part of the cultural work that we do as well as land management. Everything is linked together. Our land management is tied to cultural practices which is language, art etc.

    I resonated with a section of the article and have often felt I am a typical white fella contributing to the Australian language issue. No doubt I always will but hopefully I can minimise my impact. I have lived in many different countries and cultures, learning the languages. I am from a bilingual family. However, now only understand German but not confident to speak as I have no need to use it. On a personal level, I am finding it difficult to go from one language to another and have felt with Kunwinjku I have put less effort to learn in which I know is not ideal. However, I am grateful for this course and the many resources available! It does make it easier. I am always in awe of mob up here that speak 5+ languages. It can be quite common particularly Maningrida. After my attempts at Indonesian, French, German, Spanish, Anindilyakwa and now Kunwinjku, I’m barely holding onto Spanish and German. After a while I start to think what’s the point of learning if I am just to forget. The article is a good reminder why. Hopefully, I’ll be here for a while too!

    • Cathy Bow
      Cathy Bow says:

      Creating written resources is time-consuming and challenging, but can be beneficial in developing literacy skills and also shows a respect for the language and its speakers. I think non-Indigenous people tend to see language as somehow separable from culture, but for Bininj they’re completely intertwined.
      Yes, once you start learning different languages, it can be hard to retain ones you’re not regularly using! But you might be surprised what you retain when you come into contact with those languages again.

  4. Mia-D
    Mia-D says:

    My skin name is Ngalbulanj. My mother is NgalKammerang. My brother and sister are Nabulanj and Ngalbulanj. My mother’s mother or kakkak is Ngarridj.

    I am struggling a little bit to remember the different sounds of the bininj words (ie.not read them how I would in English) but I found note cards with the sounds from this weeks ‘Pronunciation’ lesson blue tacked to frequented rooms in my house has really helped me. I haven’t tired recording myself but having read the posts of Amber-W and Michael-A I think I better give it a go.

    1. nganang nganbarru (I saw a/the buffalo)
    2. Ngalkammarang, Ngalbulanj, Nabulanj dja kinga kabirrire kabbal (Ngalkammarang, Ngalbulanj, Nabulanj and a/the crocodile they go to the floodplain)

  5. Erin-R
    Erin-R says:


    My kunkuralah is Ngal-bulanj.
    My mother’s kunkurlah is Ngal-Kamarrang
    Her mother’s kunkurlah is Ngal-Ngarridj
    I have a younger brother, his kunkurlah is Na-Bulanj.
    My father’s kunkurlah is Nakodjok or Nabangardi… if my mother married the right skin!

    Thanks! Bobo!

  6. Erin-R
    Erin-R says:

    Hi Mia D, fellow Ngalbulanj (yahbok?) – blue tacking notes to the wall is a great idea.
    There are many new words to learn, some familiar and some not at all!

    Here’s my attempt to introduce myself beyond my kunkurlah …

    Ngaye ngangeyyo Erin
    Ngaye ngahni kore Darwin.
    Ngaye ngahning kore Maningrida (a shot at past tense – correct?!)
    Nganang duruk dja kunj


    • Cathy Bow
      Cathy Bow says:

      Good work Ngalbulanj.
      Ngahning doesn’t look right to me – the ‘h’ means it’s happening now, so past tense doesn’t work.
      The past tense of ni is also ni – but I think here you might use the verb yo, which in past is yoy
      Ngayoy kore Maningrida – I lived at Maningrida

  7. Anja-T
    Anja-T says:

    Ngaye ngangeyyo Anja.
    I am Ngalkangila, my mother is Ngalbangardi, my father is Nawamud, my husband is Ngangarridj, my son is Nagodjok.

    Nakodjok kanan kakkak = Nagodjok sees (his) maternal grandmother

    Kinga kare kulabbarl = The crocodile goes to the billabong

  8. Jonathan-H
    Jonathan-H says:

    I am Nabulanj, my mother is Ngalkamarrang, my brother is Nabulanj, my sister is Ngalbulanj, my mother’s mother is Ngalngarridj.
    When I returned to Gunbalanya, I was told by a Bininj that I was his brother because his father worked with my father on the Mission as it was back then- my father was apparently ‘Nakdojok’ skin… so this would make sense with the inter-marriage diagram I believe.

    I am honoured to share at a church in Canberra this coming weekend about the Bible Society’s work in Indigenous languages around Australia- being NAIDOC week- it is so very interesting to be doing this course at the same time as honouring the First Australians. You can watch a short video we produced about language revival in Western Australia if you are interested…. https://vimeo.com/384440618

  9. Jonathan-H
    Jonathan-H says:

    (Cathy Bow- feel free to remove if not appropriate.) Ngaye kunkurlah ngarduk Nabulinj. Ngaye ngamdolkkang Kunbarlanja beh. Ngaye ngangeyyo Jonathan. If anyone is interested, this is a 7 minute doco of how I learned about my grandmother Nell Harris started to translate the first words of Kunwinjku into phonetics to form the book or Mark on the Mission in 1936 (I believe the Dyer family did a small amount before her?), with her good friends Hannah Mangiru and Rachel Maralngurra. Their descendants still live in Gunbalanya (Oenpelli) to this day. Doco found here:

  10. Rachel-S
    Rachel-S says:

    Hi, sorry I’m really late to the party!

    My Kunwinjku skin name is Ngal-wamud and my husband’s skin name is Na-kodjok.(Confusingly enough, it’s the exact opposites in Kuninjku – I am Wamuddjan and he is Kojok?!) Our kids are Ngal-ngarridji (both girls)

    One other way I’ve been practicing that others haven’t mentioned is to get my husband to hit play on random items from the vocab/phrase list, and I try to transcribe them. I’m not actually trying to learn to spell, but it’s a backwards way of trying to learn to read/pronounce as I have to listen carefully to what sounds I am hearing. I would really like to be able to read aloud to the little kids at school even if I don’t know what I’m saying!

    I also tried drawing some colour coded skin-name family trees. It was helpful to visually see the patterns repeat across the generations.

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