By Merlan, Francesca C.

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Additional resources for A Grammar of Wardaman: A Language of the Northern Territory of Australia

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Most Wardaman men until recently grew up learning to work cattle, and most women grew up doing domestic work for the station and living in the Aboriginal camps associated with all of these properties. The early period of initial "contact" with Europeans, here as in the Victoria River District generally, had been one of considerable violence. An atmosphere had been created, and persisted, in which the Aborigines could not be at all confident of the benevolence of Europeans. For their part, the European station personnel seem to have been mainly concerned with the Aborigines as workers (and to some extent, with the women as sexual partners).

Vs. /mardird/ /mejern/ /yingelembern/ 'whistling kite' 'belly' 'collarbone' /jurrul/ 'saltwater turtle' vs. , wu-walu 'ring finger' vs. yigurliyn 'first rain'; ngone 'hooked spear' vs. birdij'find' (particles); gelelen 'cold' vs. gerle- 'to taste'; gitda 'where' vs. bigurda, a kind of plat potato; gadi 'lily' vs. gardirrg 'gnash teeth' (particle), and so on. The above generalization does not apply to the rhotics, since /IT/ has not been found initially in lexical stems, and only two instances of /r/ have been noted to date: the bird term rewrew 'dollar bird', and a toponym (referring to a creek near Willeroo Station homestead in the Wardaman heartland, and seemingly not a foreign form), Relwuyugun.

From her I have gathered my most extensive textual material, and from her also I have constantly gotten new lexical information as she has thought about our language work and made mental notes of new things to tell me. She has also always encouraged her other relatives to help with certain aspects of the work: in particular, she always enlisted both her mothers and her father to help me with 'stories' and information of all sorts. Though her personality and mentality are quicksilver, and therefore I think at times she has found it trying to persist through elicitation and checking of grammatical forms, she has done so, sometimes for hours on end, and sat with me to encourage others to do so.

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