Fostoria dhimbangunmal

Dhirrabuu ngamildandaay garay. Great to see the language being used. Fostoria dhimbangunmal is a newly described dinosaur – see The main parts of the article are way beyond my expertise, but I was particularly interested in the name. The article has:

Etymology—The genus name honors Robert Foster, the miner who discovered the bone bed. The specific epithet (pronounced ‘dim-baan goon-mal’) comes from dhimba (‘sheep’) and ngunmal (‘yard’) in the language of the Yuwaalaraay, Yuwaalayaay, and Gamilaraay peoples, after the Sheepyard opal field where the bone bed is located.”

The derivation is well explained. The structure of the word has a few parallels in traditional language: for example bidjaaymamal, ‘Fairy martin’ (a bird), from bidjaay ‘mud’ and mama-li ‘stick’ (the transitive verb).

At Goodooga in the early 1950’s Jinny (or Ginny) Rose taught Ian Sim the word, and he fortunately wrote it down, recording the meaning as ‘enclosure, enclosed area, e.g. a yard in a fish trap’. In 1976 Arthur Dodd was being recorded by Corinne Williams at Gingie, near Walgett. You can hear her checking Ian Sim’s material. She read the word and Arthur Dodd agreed with the pronunciation and meaning.

Unfortunately there are no records of traditional speakers saying the word.

I wrote to the lead author, Dr Phillip Bell, making some comments and two alternative pronunciation guides, one longer and one shorter, which are copied below. I’d be interested to know if people find them helpful.

Maaru yananga. John

Email to Dr Phillip Bell. (slightly modified)

It is great to see local language being used, but, if I may, I would like to comment on the name, mainly about the pronunciation.

As you point out the dhimba-ngunmal is made up of two parts, and would be pronounced as if they were separate words. It is generally challenging to describe the sounds of one language using another language, but a short and longer attempt below.

A shorter guide is:


Stress on Dhim, which is a bit like thim in thimble; ba as in but;

ngun: ng as in ‘singer’ u as in put; mal as in ‘mull’.

A longer pronunciation guide might be:

Stress on dhi and a bit less on ngun

Dh, like d, but with the tongue tip on the bottom teeth (similar to th in that/the)

Ba as in but/butter;

Ngun; This is difficult – the two letters, ‘ng’ represent one sound, as do the ‘ph’ in elephant or the ‘th’ in thing. English has this sound, but never at the start of words, and so it can be tricky for beginners. This ‘ng’ is a sometimes called a soft sound, as in the English word ‘singer’. The ‘ng’ in ‘finger’ actually represents two sounds, ‘ng’, followed by ‘g’, and is sometimes call a hard sound. The ‘u’ is as in ‘put’.

Mal: like ‘mull’

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