Dhurral, Yiidja, ..

Words for Easter?

There was a recent request: How to say ‘Happy Easter’. Further on in this document is a discussion from 2018 with options for a Gamilaraay word for ‘Easter’. A further question is: does GR want to follow the English pattern, an adjective ‘Happy’ and then a word for ‘Easter’. Lots of other languages do things differently. In fact not everyone needs to say the same thing in GR. (What do people say in English? Happy Easter, Have a great Easter. …..other things?) Below a few suggestions: (A doc with this material is below)

Using Dhurral for Easter

Maaru yananga, Dhurral-a.               Go well at Easter.

Dhurral gayaa.                                  Happy Easter.

Using Nganbirraa for Easter

Maaru yananga, Nganbirraa-ga.        Go well at Easter.

Nganbirraa gayaa.                             Happy Easter.

John Giacon

The discussion below is an adaptation of something written in 2018, when Winanga-Li was looking for words, including one for Easter.


The easiest option is generally to borrow from English. However this will result in a Gamilaraay that sounds more and more like English. GY could do what Kaurna did, and borrow from English. The Kaurna words are:

Yiitya                      Easter

Kityamitya              Christmas

Yingkilityi               English

Another way is to look at the meaning and derivation of the word in different languages, and use those as models. Where does the word ‘Easter come from? What is Easter about?

What is Easter about?

The Christian origin is the resurrection of Christ.

In the Gospels Easter is at the time of the Passover feast.

Passover celebrates the move of Jewish people from slavery in Egypt across the Red Sea on their way to current Israel.

Where does the word Easter come from (and words in other languages)?

A Google search for ‘Etymology of Easter’ gives:

Old English ēastre ; of Germanic origin and related to German Ostern and east; perhaps from Ēastre, the name of a goddess associated with spring.

This likely has to do with Christ rising; and in the northern Hemisphere Easter is near the start of summer – new life after the cold winter.

In Italian ‘Easter’ is ‘Pasqua’, (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Pasqua) which is related to the Passover, the journey of the Jewish people from Egypt to the Promised Land, and the Jewish ceremony each year to remember that. Jesus died and rose at Passover.

Etymology – From Vulgar Latin pascua which under the influence of Latin pascuum, accusative of pascuus (“grazing”), (because of the bitter herbs of the Passover seder) came from Latin pascha, from Ancient Greek πάσχα (páskha), from Hebrew פסח‎ (pésakh, “Passover”).

Something based on ‘across/over’ would pick up the ‘Passover’ theme. There are a number of words in the dictionary which begin with nganbi and have to do with ‘across’, so a word with ‘nganbi’ could pick up the idea of ‘Passing over’.

Below are some possible words for ‘Easter’, based on the three different approaches just discussed.

Yiidja, from English ‘Easter’

Nganbirraa from nganbirr-aa ; – ‘going-across time’ [using the idea of ‘Passover’] – from nganbirr ‘across; and the –Baa/-aa suffix.

Dhurral or Dhurraldaay – from the verb dhurrali ‘come, arise (sun)’ – which could be used to translate ‘rise or resurrect or resurrection’.

Below are some Yuwaalaraay Gamilaraay words from the dictionary, related to the idea of ‘across/passover’

nganbi-y (YR, YY) verb-intransitive

lean. Giirr dhayn-duul ngaama maalaabidi-dja nganbi-y-la-nha. (YY) The man is leaning up against that tree.

nganbirr (YY, GR) adjective, adverb

crosswise, across. Also ‘nganbi’. Used to describe things that are ‘across’ something, e.g. in English ‘the bridge across the river’. Also anything across the ‘natural line’, e.g. unlawful marriage relations. A person is nganbirr when they are ineligible as a marriage partner, because they are in the wrong social section. Some irregular marriages were permitted. Based on nganbi-y (lean). See also: ngan.gi

ngaambiyan (YR) noun

give and take paddock. Ted Fields said that this was the name of a paddock on the Narran River at Bangate; the fences crossed the river so that stock from paddocks on both sides could get to water. One source.

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