Bininj Kunwok pilot 2016

Bininj Kunwok pilot 2016


In the introductory video, you watched Jill introducing herself, using many of the vocabulary words for this week.

This time, listen to her introducing herself and notice how she uses these words.

If you have trouble viewing this video, click HERE


  • •  some technical terms are linked to definitions in the Linguistic terms section of the website
  • •  This will help you with the activity for this unit
Ngaye ngangeyyo Jill
1sg   1sg-name_exist [name]
My name is Jill
  • •  note that nga is a first person singular pronoun
  • •  notice that there’s no translation for ‘am’ – this is quite common in Aboriginal languages, you can just say “I name Jill”
  • •  don’t worry too much about the -yo suffix for now, we’ll come to it later
  • •  Here she uses her ‘Balanda’ or non-Indigenous name ‘Jill’. In the introductory video she also used her clan name (which is different from a western ‘surname’)

Kunkurlah ngarduk Ngalwakadj
skin-name 1sg-POSS [skin-name]
My skin name is Ngalwakadj
  • • ngarduk is first person singular possessive, like English ‘my’ (note that this is not the same as the nga- prefix in this case, it’s a whole unit. )
  • Here the possessive appears after the thing being possessed, but could just as easily appear before it 
    • Kunkurlah ngarduk / ngarduk kunkurlah – both mean ‘my skin name’
  • • the Ngal- prefix indicates a FEMinine form. A male of the same skin would be Nawakadj using the MASCuline prefix na-

Ngaye ngamdolkkang Kunbarlanja beh.
1sg 1sg-stand_up-PST [place_name] from
 I come from Gunbalanya
  • •  note the spelling of Gunbalanya as Kunbarlanja – see notes on Spelling & Pronunciation
  • •  Here Jill uses an explicit pronoun ngaye
    • – the pronoun is always part of the verb phrase in Kunwinjku, but sometimes speakers will also use a separate pronoun, as Jill does here.
  • •  the verb ‘ngamdolkkang‘ is made up of different parts:
    • nga + m + dolkka+ ng
    • 1sg + towards speaker + standup/come from + past
    • (we’ll look at that -m- in more detail later on)
    • the verb is interesting, it really means ‘stand up’ or ‘get up’ but here it refers to where someone comes from
  • •  beh – notice that this preposition comes after the place
    • Kunbarlanja beh – c.f. English ‘from Gunbalanya’

Ngaye ngahni                   kore Darwin.
1sg       1sg-now-sit/stay LOC   [place-name]
Now I live in Darwin
  • •  the h in ngahni has a specific meaning of ‘right now’ or ‘immediate’
  • •  In this sentence kore means ‘at’, but in fact it covers a range of meanings that English has different words for, including to, towards, at, in connection with
    • •  see more about that word here

Ngaye ngadjare ngaborlbme Kunwinjku
1sg        1sg-want    1sg-learn       [language_name]
I want to learn Kunwinjku
    • •  Jill doesn’t really want to learn Kunwinjku, but she wants other people to learn, so here she models how you would say that
    • • notice that the prefix nga- appears on lots of words too – it is the first person singular pronoun (‘I’) but it attaches to the verb (and sometimes another part of speech)
    • • you may notice that the prefix ‘kun‘ appears on lots of words (Kunwinjku, Kunbarlanja, Bininj kunwok) – this is a noun class prefix (NCP). This will be explained later, but just notice its use for now.

Now watch other Bininj introducing themselves, and notice the language they use.

If you have trouble viewing this video, click HERE