Gunbaldaay: maayrr-wan.gaan


A request came for a Yuwaalaraay translation of:

Bullying; no way.

Below are some suggestions, then discussion, then the original request.

As ever, these are suggestions. People will decide whether to use them.

John Giacon 2020-03-16

Giirr-yaa/Maybe [=suggestions]

Gunbaldaay: maayrr-wan.gaan  Yuwaalaraay

Gunbaldaay: marayrr-ban.gaan  Gamilaraay


One step in developing words is to look at the origin of the English word. For ‘bully’ has:

noun, plural bul·lies

a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.

Archaic. a man hired to do violence.

Obsolete. a pimp; procurer.

Obsolete. good friend; good fellow.

verb (used with object), bul·lied, bul·ly·ing.

to act the bully toward; intimidate; domineer.

Google also has the surprising path the word has followed:

mid 16th century: probably from Middle Dutch boele ‘lover’. Original use was as a term of endearment applied to either sex; it later became a familiar form of address to a male friend. The current sense dates from the late 17th century.

The word seems to have no relationship to the formally [shape-wise] similar ‘bull’.

The closest GY word I can think of is ngayu-gi ‘tread on’. The meaning of this could be extended to include ‘bullying’. An alternative is to develop a new verb using a pattern that is very common in GY: a noun or adjective with a verb forming suffix, e.g. maaru ‘well’; maaru-ma-li ‘heal, fix, make better’; that is the Gamilaraay; in Yuwaalaraay maayumali.

One purpose of bullying is to make the other afraid. The dictionary had three words for ‘afraid’, garigari, giyal and gun.gun. Giyal also has to do with ‘shame’, so probably not the best to use in developing a word for ‘bully’. GY has a number of ‘causative’ verb suffixes (i.e. = ‘make something happen’): -ma-li often implies ‘do with hand’; -ba-li can have a broader application, include ‘make something happen by talking/saying’. So a transitive verb could be formed. The first part to do with ‘fear’ (garigari, gari, gun.gun or gun) and second part to do with causing (-ma-li or -ba-li).

Either of gariba-li or gunba-li ‘bully’ seem good to me. (I prefer shorter words). The fact that gun.gan is ‘wound’ (something I had forgotten) and a bit like guna inclines me to suggest gunba-li ‘bully, intimidate’.

For the sign:

Garriya gunbaldaya. ‘Don’t bully’ or using marayrr GR, maayrr YR and the -Buu ‘total’ suffix (-uu after rr)

Gunbaldaay: maayrruu would be a very literal translation of the English.

Second thoughts;

I would now not go with the previous suggestion. A suffix with u or uu can also have to do with time; e.g.

waal ‘no’, waaluu ‘not yet’ YR; gamiluu in GR; garriya ‘don’t’ garriyawu ‘wait a while’

so marayrr-uu could be interpreted as ‘not at all’ [-Buu ‘totally’] or ‘not yet’ [-uu ‘time’]. We don’t want the second interpretation, so a better alternative to use the ‘very’ suffix, -ban.gaan in GR, -wan.gaan in YR.

marayrr-ban.gaan in GR and maayrr-wan.gaan in YR are something like ‘definitely not’

The sign could then use a verb, or an phrase with maayrr/marayrr.

Garriya gunbaldaya. ‘Don’t bully’

or using marayrr GR, maayrr YR and -wan.gaan YR -ban.gaan GR ‘very’

Gunbaldaay: maayrr-wan.gaan/marayrr-ban.gaan  ‘bullying none-very’


Yaama John

A translation request has come my way via the school’s Head Teacher Wellbeing. It’s Harmony Day next Saturday (21 March), and Anti-Bullying Day on the Friday. The students are going to work on a unit under the heading “Bullying: No Way”.

I was thinking of yiili or yiiliyanbaa with a garriya to negate the imperative, or waal. But then I realised that these are adjectives, not verbs.

So I went to buma-li. “Hit” or “kill” feels a little intense for what we’re trying to get across, but I bore in mind your notes in the “always” translation this week to go for sense or tone. Bearing that in mind, could I extend the meaning of  buma-la (imperative) to mean “be aggressive towards”? And, if it’s an imperative form, would garriya be more appropriate than waal? Garriya bumala does have a nice rhythm and cadence to it.

As always, your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Mark MacLean

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