Months, Birthday

There has been a request for GY words for months of the year and for a word for ‘birthday’. Below is some material, mostly from 2000, on months, and a discussion of ‘birthday‘.

Months of the year

Walgett, 16/6/2000

The words below (without -gil) were suggested in June 2000 as names for the months at a meeting of Uncle Ted Fields, John Giacon, John Brown and Tracy Dodd

Principles [2000]:

-to use words for something that happens in or around the month

-to use Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay words, so that a common set of names is arrived at, reducing the complication between the languages

Suggestion [2017]

Just as day names are easier to recognise because they end in ‘day’ (Monday etc.) some month names are easy to recognise because they end in ‘ber’ (September etc.). A suitable ending in Gamilaraay Yuwaalaraay could be -gil (cf. gilay ‘moon’). This might be more relevant in GY since the proposed words already have a meaning. On the other hand you may not have talked about gayn.gayn for a while, so there is little chance of confusion between a fruit and the month.

Below a suggested list for discussion.

English Suggested names Derivation; 2000 suggestions
January Gayn.gayn, Gayn.gil Gayn.gayn – a fruit that is ripe at this time
February Gaaguluu, Gaagulgil, Gaaguluugil gaaguluu – (bush banana) a fruit that is ripe at this time
March Guwibirr, guwibirrgil guwibirr – a fruit that is ripe at this time
April Bulawaa, bulawaagil bulawaa – word for the pair of emus, this is when they pair up
May Guduu, guduugil, gawurragiil guduu ‘codfish’ or gawurragiil = mythical emu, and emu in the night sky/milky way
June Garriil, Garriilgil, baliyaa, baliyaagil garriil GR or baliyaa GY ‘cold’
July Barrgay, barrgaygil barrgay ‘emu chick’
August, yin.gagil;; ‘crayfish, yabby’  + gabu a variant word for egg; this is the time crayfish breed
September Maalinha, maalinhagil maalinha – breeze and showers from the south-west
October Guwadhaa, guwadhaagil guwadhaa ‘quondong’ (a fruit)
November mugiin.gaa, mugiin.gaagil, mugiin.gil mugiin.gaa ‘sandfly’. Tthese come after floods, which can occur at this time.
December Bambul, bambulgil bambul ‘native orange’

It would be good to have a word for ‘month’ (moon-th). It could be one of the words for ‘moon’: gilay GR and YR, or baaluu YR, or something derived from these. The possibilities are endless: gilaygil, gilaymaal (one moon), gibaa (first bit of words for ‘moon’), gayn.gaa (as in alpha-bet, which comes from the first two Greek letters, alpha and beta).

Do you prefer:

Use of -gil in all month names

Use of -gil in some names

No use of -gil.

Do you prefer one of the suggested words for ‘month’ or do you have another suggestion. [to top]


The temptation is to go with English – get a word for ‘birth’, a word for ‘day’. Giirr maayu[Yuwaalaraay] Job done. But why use an English pattern? Because that is what we know? Revived GY will have lots that is English, so I prefer to avoid that where possible. What do other ATSI languages use for ‘birthday’. A nice project for someone to find out. If you do please let us know.

What other pattern can we use?

Looking at traditional language dictionaries at; 2 of the 3 looked at had no word for ‘birth’ – perhaps not a subject for open discussion – and none had a word for birthday Kriol has ‘bethdei; n. birthday’. So no easy answers there.

Other patterns for ‘Birthday’:

Italian uses comple-anno – something like ‘complete year’. ?like anni-versary ‘year turns’?. French has ‘anniversaire’; German Geburtstag is ‘birth-day’.

GY has no recorded word for ‘birth’ but has gaangay ‘give birth/be born’ [having two meanings raises questions about the accuracy of the information]. Gaangangindaay would probably mean ‘birth’. However adding more will make a very long word.

GY has yaadha ‘day’; gurrubuu ‘year’ gayay ‘turn, intransitive verb’. Gurrubuu comes from gurru ‘circle’ and –buu ‘total’. The GY has developed words for ‘days of the week’, ending in yaay; cf yaadha ‘day’, e.g. Baalaay ‘Monday’ (moonday) from baluu ‘moon’, and the suffix (y)aay ‘day’. Birthday could be gurrubuuyaay ‘year-day’. And gurrubuuyaay gaba or gurrubuuyaay gayaa ‘Happy Birthday’.

Comments, suggestions please. [to top]

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