Boorrb-goo jemang joodi-joodib ngalamberrmi?': 'Have you finished writing quickly on the paper?

Boorrb-goo jemang joodi-joodib ngalamberrmi?': 'Have you finished writing quickly on the paper?

Language: Gajirrabeng (ISO639-3:gdh)
Depositor: Frances Kofod, Knut Olawsky
Location: Australia
Deposit Id: 0573
Grant id: MDP0384
Funding body: ELDP
Level: Deposit

Summary of deposit
Gajirrabeng, a member of the Jarragan language family, has no living fluent speakers. There are a few elderly partial speakers plus project linguist Frances Kofod who still have sufficient knowledge of the language to provide a decent level of documentation. This project secures previously recorded language data by digitising a large number of audio tapes that were degrading, transcription of 40 hours of the recordings, and provides basic linguistic analysis. All output will be archived to standard with the community archive at the host organisation MDWg and with ELDP, following an open archive policy.

Group represented
Gajirrabeng is a member of the non-Pama-Nyungan Jarrakan language family from the East Kimberley in north western Australia. The other Jarragan languages are Miriwoong and Gija. Other neighbouring languages come from four different language families: Jaminjung (Jaminjungan, Mindi), Ngarinyman, as well as several extinct languages (Doolboong, Wardanybeng). There is no reliable data on the number of ethnic Gajirrabeng people. In the latest Census by the Australian Government (2016), the group does not feature. All ethnic Gajirrabeng live in the town of Kununurra and surroundings, i.e., outside their traditional lands. The dominant language of the area is English (70%; Australian Standard English and Aboriginal English), with a good number of Kimberley Kriol speakers from various backgrounds. Miriwoong is the traditional language of the Kununurra area and spoken fluently only by a handful of elderly people.Gajirrabeng itself has no fluent speakers; the last fluent speaker Mignonette Jamin, passed away in 2010. There are now very few (c 5) people who have a hearing knowledge of Gajirrabeng. These people will play an instrumental role in transcribing and analysing the language data. Two of these people are employed as language worker at Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring. Europeans only set foot in the East Kimberley in 1879 with an expedition by Alexander Forrest who reported the existence of “Large tracts of unoccupied pastoral land.” After that the Durack’s brought huge herds of cattle from Queensland and gold was discovered in the early 1880s resulting in large numbers of fortune hunters coming to the East Kimberley. The result for the Aboriginal population was devastating. Most of the Gajirrabeng, Miriwoong and Gija populations who survived the massacre and disease brought by the invasion of their lands lived on cattle stations in very poor conditions with only food and clothing provided by the white invading station owners. Frances Kofod arrived not long after the setting up of Kununurra in Miriwoong people’s country in the early 1960s when two dams were built on the Ord River flooding much of the land. When she arrived in Kununurra in 1971 most of the Miriwoong people who had been living on surrounding stations had been thrown off and were living as fringe dwellers at the Mirima reserve. This is where she met her original Miriwoong consultant Mundy Moore who was living there with his extended family who had come in from Ivanhoe and Argyle Stations. That year Aboriginal people were still living at Carlton Hill station to the north of Kununurra and Mundy Moore and family asked her to take them there to visit relations. Kununurra is in Miriwoong country and Carlton Hill to the north is on the borders of Miriwoong and Gajirrabeng country. This is where she first met Daisy Jandoony one of the last speakers of Gajirrabeng. Daisy heard that she was in the Kimberley to record language and requested that I record her speaking her language. That year she made three recordings of vocabulary with her totalling about 2.5 hours. On a subsequent visit in 1972 Jandoony along with the other Aboriginal people from Carlton had moved to Kununurra and I made an additional 4 recordings totalling about three hours. In 1986 she made a private visit to Kununurra when I recorded Miriwoong and Gajirrabeng with Miriwoong consultant Ruby Thoorrbiliny and Dasiy Jandoony speaking Gajirrabeng. In 1987 she took a job at Warmun, Turkey Creek to work with Gija language in the school. During 1987 she made regular weekend trips to Kununurra to continue recording with Thoorrbiliny and Jandoony at their request. During 1987 and 1988 she assisted the Miriwoong in obtaining funding to help set up Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring to help in maintenance of the Miriwoong language. People also thought that MDWg would work with the Gajirrabeng language as well as Miriwoong but because Kununurra is in Miriwoong country and the majority of the stake holders are Miriwoong most of the work has been done on Miriwoong language. During the early years of MDWg Jandoony continued to request that her stories and language should be recorded but only small amounts of these recordings have been properly transcribed. In the early 2000s MDWg did a small project that saw a lot more recordings made with other Gajirrabeng speakers Paddy Carlton and Mignonette Jamin some of which were transcribed and a small dictionary created for community distribution. None of the recordings have been annotated in the more recent language documentation software ELAN. Most of the recordings made in 1987 are still waiting digitisation, transcription and annotation. The spirit of Jandoony who used to come asking “Where is your tape recorder, where is your note book, I want you to write it down now” has been haunting Frances Kofod. She has been concentrating on the other two Jarrakan languages Miriwoong and Gija. It is really the turn of Gajirrabeng to be properly documented while there are still have speakers who have a hearing knowledge alive to help. This is why the answer to Jandoony’s question Boorrb-goo jemang joodi-joodib ngalamberrmi? Have you finished writing quickly on the paper? should be “I will do this very soon during 2018-19".

Language information
Gajirrabeng is a member of the Jarragan language family and has no living fluent speakers. There are a few elderly partial speakers plus the project linguist Frances Kofod who still have sufficient knowledge of the language to provide a decent level of documentation. The objective of this project is to secure previously recorded language data by digitising a large number of audio tapes that are currently degrading, transcribe the recordings, and provide basic linguistic analysis. Glottolog code: gadj1243 Note that Glottolog erroneously lists the language names as Gadjerrawang while Gajirrabeng is the correct name used by descendants of this ethnic group in their own language. The neighbouring Miriwoong people, on whose lands the Gajjirrabeng people now largely live, use the name Gajirrawoong.

Special characteristics

Deposit contents
The majority of bundles in the collection are 60 hours of audio recordings. 40 hours of these will be transcribed, translated and annotated. The recordings include elicitation and narrative about aspects of Gajirrabeng country. Approximately two hours of historical video recordings including Gajirrabeng people are also included. Additionally, approximately three hours of video of interview sessions with partial speakers who are descendants of the fluent Gajirrabeng will be included.

Deposit history
The oldest data for this collection was recorded in 1971 - 72 by Frances Kofod during fieldwork in Kununurra, WA to record the related language Miriwoong. Further data was recorded by Frances Kofod at the request of the speakers during 1986 - 87 - 88 when she was working with Gija people to the south. Further data was recorded after the opening of Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring between 1989 and 2010 when the last speaker passed away.

Other information

Acknowledgement and citation
Kofod, Frances. 2018-2019. Gajirrabeng Collection.


Resources yet to be deposited


Frances Kofod
Affiliation: Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring
Knut Olawsky
Responsive image
Affiliation: Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring

Deposit Statistics

Data from 2020 October 01 to 2020 October 01
Deposit hits:2
Downloaded files
Without statistics