Bininj Kunwok pilot 2016

Bininj Kunwok pilot 2016

Grammar

In this section we will look at how to ask people about their families, and how to respond to questions (or understand responses to questions) about family members and what to call them.

Start by listening to Ngalkangila Seraine asking her Kakkak about her family, then we’ll go through each of the phrases. By the end of the lesson you will be able to ask and answer these questions.


  • Ngudda baleh kunkurlah?
  • 2sg           what   skin_name
  • What is your skin name?
  • •  Ngudda (2sg) is a separate pronoun for second person singular and is sometimes used to emphasise or clarify your meaning
    • •  This is like in the previous unit, when Jill said Ngaye ngangeyyo Jill (1sg 1sg-name_exists Jill) where she could have just said Ngangeyyo Jill. The separate pronoun (ngaye) is used for emphasis, but the prefix on the verb (nga-) is what identifies the subject of the verb.
    • •  note that there’s no possessive form here, the question would literally translate as You, what skin name?
  • •  baleh is a very useful question word. It usually means where or how many/much (asking for a place or amount in the answer), but not always.  Here it basically means what. Compare these examples:
        •  Baleh yiyo?=where do you live?
        •  Baleh yire?= where are you going?

  • Ngudda baleh kunmokurrkurr?
  • 2sg            what  clan_group
  • What is your clan group?

  • Ngalbadjan ke,        baleh kunkurlah?
  • Mother       2sgPOSS what   skin_name
  • What is your mother’s skin name?
  • •  ke is the 2nd person singular possessive form (your). It always goes after the noun (the thing possessed – here it’s mother)

  • Ngaleng  baleh kunmokurrkurr?
  •  3sg_FEM what  clan_group
  • What is her clan group?
  • •  Ngaleng is the independent pronoun form for she (3sg-FEM)
  • •  again note that ngaleng is not a possessive form (which would be required in English)

  • Baleh yimarneyime?
  • What  2sg-say-3sg_OBJ
  • What do you call her?
  • •  in yimarneyime we see the 2sg pronominal prefix yi- (you).
    • •  we already saw nga- and ka- in the previous unit for I and he/she
  • •  the verb root –marneyime actually means say something to someone but is used here for call
  • •  this verb is transitive, so it must take an object (here the object is him/her (3sg) which is implied)
  • •  note that yimarneyime is the same whether the subject or object is male or female

  • Baleh yiyime?
  • what 2sg-say
  • What do you call him/her?
  • •  This is another way to ask the same question, here using the verb root yime which means say or do and the pronominal prefix yi- (2sg)
    • •  in fact marneyime is marne- (a ‘benefactive prefix – meaning something for someone’s benefit) + -yime (say/do)

  • Nakornkumo ke,       baleh kunkurlah?
  • Father        2sg_POSS what    skin_name
  • What is your father’s skin name?

  • Nungka baleh kunmokurrkurr?
  • 3sg-MASC what clan-group
  • What is his clan group?
  • •  Nungka is the independent pronoun form for he (3sg-MASC)

Now let’s look at how to respond to these questions. Watch as Ngalkangila Seraine tells us about her Kakkak and her family (using 3rd person forms for ‘his/her’)


  • Ngaleng/nungka kangeyyo ____
  • 3sg_MASC / 3sg_FEM 3sg-name_exist
  • His/her name is …
  • • Note the use of ka- on the verb (3sg)
  • • Note that Kunwinjku doesn’t use the possessive structure for a name (as we would in English), eg my name …, her name …

  • Ngaleng/nungka _____
  • 3sg_MASC / 3sg_FEM
  • He/she …
  • • This is the simplest way of giving someone’s skin name, clan name, patrimoiety (Duwa or Yirridjdja) or matrimoiety (Mardku or Ngarradjku)
  • • Remember to add Na- or Ngal- to the skin name, clan name and the matrimoiety to indicate if it’s a male or a female (not to patrimoiety terms)
    • • Ngaleng Ngalwakadj / Nungka Nawakadj
    • • Ngaleng Yirridjdja /  Nungka Yirridjdja
    • • Nungka Nangarradjku / Ngaleng Ngalngarradjku
    • • Nungka Namok / Ngaleng Ngalmok

  • Ngaleng/nungka kahni _____
  • 3sg_MASC / 3sg_FEM 3sg_now_live
  • He/she lives at …
  • • Note the verb here: it takes the he/she (3sg) pronominal prefix ka- plus the ‘now’ marker h to indicate this is where the person is living now
  • • ka-h-ni he/she – now – live
  • • the verb root -ni can mean live or sit, is sometimes used for be / exist

  • Kabimarneyime ______
  • 3sg-3sg_OBJ-call
  • He/she calls him/her
  • • The same phrase is used whether the subject or object is male or female
    • • the pronominal prefix kabi- is the same for masculine and feminine
  • •the kabi- prefix means he/she (subject) is acting on him/her (object)
    • • This is a new feature to learn, but is very important
    • • Just learn the phrase as a whole for now, it will come up again in later units

Overwhelmed?
Don’t get discouraged if you find this difficult – it is difficult! The grammar of Kunwinjku is very different to English, and it will take a while to get used to how words and sentences are put together. It’s OK to learn a whole word or phrase and use it without knowing exactly how all the parts go together.