Garay ngaragay

Jodie and Mark Watson run Cultural Choice Office Supplies ( Mark is Gamilaraay. They supply a range of Indigenous branded materials, and have been using Gamilaraay on their materials. This has involved the development of new words. They are expanding their range of products, and have requested further Gamilaraay words. Below is a list of suggested words, followed by discussion about how these were arrived at.

John Giacon,, 2019-03-15


sticky notes mamayaanduul
whiteboard marker wiyaylbidi (buwaarrgu banggabaagu)
whiteboard erasergaanbal (buwaarrgu banggabaagu)
art/arts mabal
visual arts diaryyaadhu mabalgu ngamildaaygu


Below some discussion about word development, and then about some actual possible words.

Yaliwunga-guwaay (Gamilaraay) dhugay-giirr (Yuwaalaraay) ‘as ever’ the development of words is challenging. How to maintain the character of the traditional languages? It would be good to do a lot of research, but time is a constraint. Each new word could involve a long discussion. Just some topics are: What does it mean in English? What are the possibilities in GY? Is it a traditional concept? How do other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages convey that concept? In fact, do they? ….. Then there is the temptation to come up with a description, more than a word. A word needs to be relatively short.

Sticky notesmamayaanduul (mamayaan– thing that sticks, from mamay to stick, DHuul little, which is -duul when a word ends with ‘n’.)) – previously used;


It makes something stand out, be seen.

dhirra is ‘flash, standing out, eye-catching, …..’

‘Make dhirra’ could be dhirraba-li, (which could translate English ‘to highlight, to emphasise, ..’ and similar words.

By a regular process of GY the word for the instrument is dhirrabal.

whiteboard marker 

Wiyayl looks good for ‘marker’

Whiteboard marker:

Could use wiyaylbidi ‘big pen’ ; and if needed, add buwaarrgu banggabaagu ‘for whiteboard’

whiteboard eraser 

Gaanba-li is ‘wipe’, gaanbal has already been used for ‘wiper’ and again could add buwaarrgu banggabaagu ‘for whiteboard’

visual arts diary


Is from Latin dies, day. It is something for writing in each day. Write dhurri (wiyaylu), day yaadha.

yaadhu ‘diary’


These words have many uses. Dictionaries (including online) list them, and discuss the origins of the word, e.g. includes ‘suffixed form of root *ar- “to fit together.”’

Art includes making and saying. In GY words about that often end in mali and bali – the second more to do with speech. So ‘art’ could be mabal.


This is getting quite detailed. At this stage of GY revival perhaps too detailed. We could use ngamiligu ‘to look at’, so visual arts is mabal ngamiligu, but this is creates difficulties when saying ‘visual arts diary’ which in GY would ‘diary for visual arts’ yaadhu mabalgu ngamili-gu-gu’. The GY sources don’t ever have -gu-gu. The challenge is to keep traditional structure. How would a traditional fluent speaker say this? Maybe we could ngamildaay, which comes from ngamili ‘see, look’ and is something like ‘when looking’. With more research a better solution may be found. [The Yuwaalaraay is ngarraldaay].

visual arts

mabal ngamildaay

visual arts diary


It is often fascinating to look at the origins of a word. has: Latin “regula,” which meant a measuring stick, a diminutive derived from “regere,” to straighten, lead, or guide.

Warragil is ‘straight’, so could use that for ‘ruler’


The dictionary has dhuubuu, which comes from traditional speakers. It is from the English; s goes to dh, oa to uu and p is the same as b, but words don’t end in b, so something must be added. Often it is the same vowel as before the consonant, [called ‘vowel harmony] so uu.

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