Speaking, Talking, Telling

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Naworneng and Mimih

This story was recorded from the late Jack Chadum at Weemol Springs in the Northern Territory in June 1992 by Nick Evans and Murray Garde. Several other Dalabon speakers were also present, including Don Buninjawa, Maggie Tukumba (Chikappa) and Flora (surname unknown). A masterpiece of dramatic, humorous story-telling, it recounts the meeting between a character called Naworneng, who is on his way back from a successful hunting trip, and a “Mimih” spirit – Mimihs are slender spirits that dwell in the rock escarpment country of Arnhem Land, often interfering with human lives. The Mimih leads Naworneng back to his cave where a whole group of Mimihs ambush Naworneng and beat him up. Naworneng escapes, manufactures a whole lot of new spears and other weapons, then returns to the same cave the next day and spears the Mimih through the heart. He then takes his mother-in-law and his two wives and goes into a different rock cave, singing a victory song but also sealing up the cave forever so that the other Mimihs cannot come and attack him again.

Photo of Jack Chadum courtesy François Giner

wal ai gin dalim yubala lilbit stori
Well, I can tell you a little story
laik mimi
like Mimih
Wanjing-kûn kah-bong
Once there was a Mimih (a type of rock spirit),
kanh mimih
that Mimih
kinikûn mahkih
and another creature
aa
...
Naworneng
...called Naworneng.
Naworneng
Naworneng
djorrkkun kah-yidjnjaninj
had rock possums with him
djorrkkun kah-bong djorrkkun djorrkkun djorrkkun kah-bong
he'd killed rock possums, He had killed a lot of rock possums
dorlhwarr wanjing
and one nabarlek (a type of small wallaby).
kah-njerrh-ngorrHngorrkaninj
He was carrying the animals on his shoulder.
Borndokno, danjno kah-yidjnjaninj
He had his woomera and spear with him.
aa
...
kahlng- kamh --
Then he.. appeared
kah- -- bûkah-marnû-burlhminj kanh mimih-yih
That mimih ambushed him (appeared before him).
marruh --
where --
"Marrûhma djabon?" bûkah-marnû-yininj
"Where are you going?" he said to him.
"Marrûh mah djabon?"
"Where are you going?"
Ngey walûngkûn
"I'm on my own,
kardûkih djah-bi-dorrûngh wanjh nûnda djah-marnû-ngoymun"
but maybe you've got someone with you, (since) you're burning off?"
"Yakkû nûnh bah ngey walûngkûn ngah- --"
"No, I'm on my own, (we) --
ngah-dja-bibkang"
I just did it myself going along.
"Ngah-kakku-komngurlkang kerninjhbi djukerre barrk" kah-yininj.
"I made the smoke myself, for kangaroos, for female and male black wallaroos." (Macropus bernardus)
"Yoh."
Yeah
"Mah njing?
"And you?"
"Kardû-kih djah-biy-dorrûngh?"
"Maybe you've got someone with you?
"Yakkû ngey bah biy-dih"
"No, there's no-one with me.
"Ngah-dja-bobon walûngkûn"
I'm just going around on my own."
kah-yininj
he said
ke- --
The two of them
keh-yang-narrinj
They talked together.
"Ngalewoy nahda-woy djah-kiyan"
"Come here and I'll take you this way."
mimih-yih bûkah-marnû-yininj
the mimi said to him.
bûkahlng-kakang
Then he took him (i.e. mimih took Naworneng)
kenbo bulu kahlng-nang balahlng- ..
and he saw them and they...
balahlng-njon-buddi
there were many of them there (with the mimih)
"Djarra Naworneng ngah-ye-burlhmu,"
"Here I've brought Naworneng"
kah-yininj
he said
"Naworneng djarra ngah-ye-burlh."
"Here I've come with Naworneng."
"kah-kûrdah djorrkkun kahlng-dadbuninj nahda nahda nahda kahlng-dadbuninj"
"He's got rock possums, dangling from his belt, here, here and here, they were dangling"
djorrkkun-ngong
Lots of rock possums.
dorlhwarr-ngong
Lots of nabarleks.
kenbo
then
"ngale" djakih Naworneng bûkah-ye-burlhminj bale-yininj kenbo borndok bard bûlalng-mey danj-bard bûlahlng- bûlahlng-dudukang wi durrngbak yah bûlahlng-mey lerrngbak lerrngbak lerrngbak (bûlah-yelûng-bong)
(they replied): "Oh yeah, I see." He appeared there with Naworneng, they did. Then they picked up their spears and woomeras. They picked them up then they chased him and picked up their woomeras, and grabbed him and thwack! thwack! thwack! They beat him up.
"Kahlng-kakaninj" kah-yininj
"You took me" he said.
"Bordo! Ngey bah nûnda biy-dih-walûng ngah-boboninj bi-dih-walûng
"Crikey! And there I was going along all on my own.
Djarra mah-ma biy-kah kahlng-kah-kaninj yirrû-kah kahlng-kakaninj!" kah-yininj.
"You brought me here to these people, you brought me to this fight!" he said.
mm
Yeah.
Bûlah-djalng-njerrh-yemey djorrkkon-ngong dorlhwarr-ngong bûlah-yerrh-yerrurrkminj, bûlahlng-bong lerrngbak lerrngbak borndok-yih,
Then they just took the animals off him, they took all the rock possums and robbed him of all the nabarleks and then they hit him thwack thwack! with their woomeras.
djurrhdjurrhyih kahlng-kang
and his blood came bleeding out!
mm
Yep.
Kah-djahlng-bong
And he went off.
"Ngale!"
Hey!
Kahlng-moy-yurdminj yibungkarn
Then he ran away by himself wounded.
kalng-yurdminj bulu kah-yelûng-berrû-bawong
He ran away then and left them all.
bala-buh-njon-boyenj-ninj mahkih
Because there were so many of them.
Bala-bûh-njon-boyenj-ninj
Because there were a big mob of them.
keninjhbi
Whatsit
ka-djahlng-yurdminj
(that feller now, Naworneng) he just ran away!
makmak biyongkih ka-boni
He didn't have to go far.
Kah-dja-rawoyh-dudjminj bul kah-yang-wonawonaninj
He came back again, he just came back then, and listened to them talking.
bulh kah-.., wow, kah-walkkarrinj
He hid himself away there
bul kah-yang-wonawonang
and listened to them talking.
balah-yininj
They said:
"Marrû-kah njing derrhno djah-bon?
"Where are you going tomorrow?
marrû-kah njing derrhno dja-h-bo-niyan?"
"Where will you go tomorrow?"
"Nahda ngah-boniyan
"I'll go this way
kanunh na kornbo nga-mey-kah
to where I picked that feller up,
ngey-narrinj-kah"
"To where we two met up"
kah-yininj
he said
"Ngale wuhra.
"Oh yeah, ok.
wuhra bûkah-marnû-yininj"
"O.K." he said to him
"Mah njing?"
"And what about you?"
"Nahda ngey,
"I'm going this way,
nahda mah ngey ngadeh Badkalkiyan
I'm going this way in the morning, to Badkalkiyan.
nahda mah ngey ngadeh badkalkiyan" kah-yininj
"I'm going this way in the morning, to Badkalkiyan" he said.
mm
Yeah
ngale
Alright
korre nûnh -- kanh --
already that -- that --
naworneng mûn
Naworneng now had been doing stuff.
borndok bard-yah kal-
He picked up his woomera.
kenh k- --
I mean...
djila bard-ye kah-yelûng-mey kah-yelûng-djeddjedminj korlkkorlk-no borndok-no
Then he made a new (woomera), (working) by himself through the night.
mm
yeah,
bala-buh-borndok-murrimurridjkang mahkih
Because they had completely broken up his woomera. ["because they bin all breakim up his woomera"]
bûlah-yelûng-ye-bong kahnûn manjh mahkih
Because they had beaten him up then over those animals.
borndok kahlng-djedminj
He made a new woomera now.
kalûng-marnbong yirrbbinj bahdi borndok
He made a woomera now from that woomera tree.
borndok-no kanh mimih-kûn
His woomera for (fighting) that mimih
yirrbbinj
Woomera tree.
kah-djalng-marnmarnbong
He made a whole lot of them.
kanh --
that --
kanh --
that --
danj
spear
ngandanj
wooden spears
mm
yeah
an -- an -- andanj kanunh
that spear
kah-rla-marnbong
He made spears
kah-rla-marnbong bokko
he made a hooked spear
bokko kah-marnbong
he made a hooked spear
"Ngale
"Hey!
kûhrdûh --
along this way
kûhrdûh kaye- -- kûhrdûh-kah"
this way where he -- to here
kah-rok-wokarreminj.
he thought to himself about where (the mimih's) track would be.
"dabarngh ngey-narrinj-kah" kah-yininj
"where we met up yesterday" he said.
kah-dja-yurdminj kah-walkkarrinj
He just ran and hid himself.
kah-walkkarrinj kanihdja
he hid himself there.
bûkah-dja-kurnhna-kurnhnang:
He just looked around the place.
kah-de-yelûng-marnû-barrhbung kanh
Daylight broke on him.
bokko-no danj-do -- danj-dorrûngh kah- --
With that hook spear and prong spear
kah- kah-djalng-yurdminj
he just ran
walkkarrinj kah-yelûng-walkkarrinj bad-kah.
He hid himself then in a rock cave.
"kûhrdûh-kah nidjarra kanh kab- --
"Yeah, it should be about here
ngey-narrinj-kah kah-yininj.
where we met up" he said.
bûkah-nang - kah-dja-marnû-malk-naHnang bûkah-nang kah-kodj-dulngdul
He looked. He just saw him a long way off, he saw his head coming along visible.
"Ngale kah-bon" kah-yininj.
"Oh yeah, here he comes." he said.
"Kanh kuhdû yulyul" kah-yininj walk kalng-karrinj kuhdû
"Here he comes running" he said. He ran crouching along and hid himself.
Kah-dja-ni: kenbo kah-dja-berrh... berrh.. berrûhminj dubmi wungurr-no bulno bûkah-
He just sat there and then he saw him then coming out.
bûkahlng-warrkah-wungurr-danjbuy
And now he would have speared wrongly at the mimih's shadow.
kunnumh-yah kah-danginj.
He pulled back. (Held back from spearing).
kanûnh kuno kûhdû
But now, this time
dorrng-no-duninj kahlng- --
(the mimih's) body
dorrng-burlhm-inj.
really came out.
djirrh ngûrk bûkah-yelûng-ngurl-dulubong.
And he speared him then, right in the heart.
ngurl-wirb...
He ripped his heart out
bûkah-ngurl-wirbme
He ripped his heart out
bûkah-dja-lng- --
Then he...
bûkahlng-kom-dengkoHminj, bûkahlng-
then he knocked him in the back of the neck.
kom-deyhminj yelûng-njerrh-bawong kanihdja bad-kah.
He knocked him on the back of the neck, and left his body there in the rock cave.
mm
Yeah.
"njing-karn-wali wanjh mah njing kah-mûrnkang bûlah-bubuninj" kah-yelûng-yininj.
"Well I've got you back, for taking me to where they all beat me up" he said.
yelûng- --
then
kanh, kanhkuno kahlng-dudjminj
Then Naworneng went back
kahlng-dudjminj
he went back
kederrhderrh badkah kahlng-birdikang wulungmunguyh
and went into a cave, he goes into a hole in the rock for ever,
barlaknodorrûng kûrdûkûrdno yabbûrnh
with his mother-in-law and his two wives
balahlng-birdikkang
they went into a hole
wurdurdnodorrûng
with his children
balahlng-birdibirdikang
they went into the hole
mm
Yes
kenbo
then
mm
yes
ngaa
Yes
kahlng-yininj
He went
kadjíbulkádjibulkáa, kamárrwalángmarrwálaang,
kadjíbulkádjibulkáa, kamárrwalángmarrwálaang,
[sound of didgeridoo:]
[sound of didgeridoo]
bulah-wodnang
They threw it
kanûnh-mûn kanh kahlng-djal-waninj
they just kept following the tune
kadjíbulkádjibulkáa, kamárrwalángmarrwálaa,
didjûmrroo, didjûmrroo tinj!
[sound of didgeridoo:]
[sound of didj]
bûlah-morlokaninj
That's what they blew
balah-wayirninj.
and they sang
karnh kah-murnungu-wayirninj, karnh kahnûn Naworneng kalng-murnungu-wayirni
That man sang as victor, that one, that Naworneng.
kahlng-birdikkang wulumunguyh
He went into (the cave) for ever now.
dindin-njirrh bûkalng-marnû-bad-modûkwong.
The rock sealed him up for ever.
bad
The rock..
bûlah-
they...
bûlah-kakku-rakalkkang kahke. bulu kah-yelûng-rdahminj
They might come following him to murder him, but to no avail. He'd denied them that possibility.
bûlah-kakku-rakalkkang kahlngke
They might come seriously looking for him to murder, (but) nothing
wulumunguyh kahlng-bad-birdikkang.
but he has gone inside the rock for ever
That's all I can say.
Thankyou.

All Dalabon Stories

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Recorded by Maïa Ponsonnet on 18th May 2011, near Dordluk creek, just before Beswick on the highway, with Lily Bennett and Nikibini Daluk, working on Dalabon. Lily Bennett tells a 'funny story' that took place close to Manyallaluk, probably around 1980. Final transcript and translation by Maïa Ponsonnet, December 2016. Some slight retranscriptions added to this file by Nick Evans, March 2017

Maggie Tukumba: Buladjbuladj story

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Maggie Tukumba: Korlomomo and Berrerdberrerd

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Manuel Pamkal: Kidjdjan (ceremonial taboos)

Manuel Pamkal telling the story of Kidjdjan

Naworneng and Mimih

This story was recorded from the late Jack Chadum at Weemol Springs in the Northern Territory in June 1992 by Nick Evans and Murray Garde. Several other Dalabon speakers were also present, including Don Buninjawa, Maggie Tukumba (Chikappa) and Flora (surname unknown). A masterpiece of dramatic, humorous story-telling, it recounts the meeting between a character called Naworneng, who is on his way back from a successful hunting trip, and a “Mimih” spirit – Mimihs are slender spirits that dwell in the rock escarpment country of Arnhem Land, often interfering with human lives. The Mimih leads Naworneng back to his cave where a whole group of Mimihs ambush Naworneng and beat him up. Naworneng escapes, manufactures a whole lot of new spears and other weapons, then returns to the same cave the next day and spears the Mimih through the heart. He then takes his mother-in-law and his two wives and goes into a different rock cave, singing a victory song but also sealing up the cave forever so that the other Mimihs cannot come and attack him again.

Queenie Brennan: Whistleduck, Ghostbat and Rainbow

Queenie Bangarn Brennan (born 1951) is telling the story of the Whistleduck, Ghostbat and Rainbow