Hilary is preparing materials in Gamilaraay to do with CV19, and in particular distancing. She is wondering how to express ideas about distance. There is no word for ‘distance’ in the Dictionary. Below a suggestion, follow by my thinking about the question.
Suggestion: Guwiinngay ‘distance’, maybe ‘closeness’.
One possibility for ‘Social distancing’ could then be ‘Guwiinngay dhayndi’ ‘distance from people’
Process: The following is me working through some ideas, so I go down some side tracks.
My preferred process in these sorts of questions is,
- Is there anything in the sources?
No. But note minyangay ‘how many, how much?’; minya ‘what?’
- Is there anything in related languages?
There is a draft Wangaaybuwan dictionary that is reasonably easy to look up. It has: minya ‘what?’ and minyangalmay ‘how much, how many?’.
Aha, what about -ngalmay and -ngay?? -ngay is probably derived from, comes from, -ngalmay.
The draft Wangaaybuwan dictionary also has -ngalmay ‘quantity’.
So, Wangaaybuwan can put -ngalmay on a number of words. But the only such word in the dictionary is minyangalmay. Madja. It would be great to have some other examples.
In GR ‘where?’ is dhalaa, in YR minyaaya, I’d guess that in Wangaaybuwan you could add -ngalmay to other question words not only to minya, and that in GY you could do the same thing with -ngay.
So then you could have the corresponding GY dhalaa-ngay and minyaaya-ngay; but these would probably mean ‘in how many places, over how much area?’.
Maybe you can add -ngalmay [and -ngay] to other words? guraarr GR / guyaarr YR are ‘far’ so maybe we could try guraarrngay GR / guyaarrngay YR ‘how far’ [need to check that rrng occurs in the languages; it does in buurrngan ‘meat ant’ and elsewhere’]
guwiin is ‘close’ GR/YR [so is milan, but it also means ‘one’ in YR so you could presumably have:
guwiinngay ‘that close’ in both GR and YR. [nng is found in banngala ‘black bream’, ngaanngu ‘whose?’ and elsewhere].
Since guwiin is not an interrogative, a question word, adding -ngay would probably not make a question word, but a quantity word – maybe translatable as ‘distance’.
Would be great if we know how -ngalmay was used in Wangaaybuwan. We may find it on the tapes when someone transcribes them all.
After all that: Suggestion: Guwiinngay ‘distance’, maybe ‘closeness’.