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Yukurru kukurnjarimili wurrunga: Dog in sheep's clothing

A story in Nyangumarta and English

Told by Donald Thomas

Illustrated by the children of Strelley Community School, Warralong.

Yukurru kukurnjarimili wurrunga: Dog in sheep's clothing is a story in Nyangumarta about the dangers that are hidden within.

Many different people have helped create this book. Wangka Maya language worker Donald Thomas wrote the story and recorded himself telling the story in Nyangumarta and English. He also edited the audio. On the first day that Donald started work at Wangka Maya, he brought in a sheet of paper with the title and last sentence. It's great to see those two sentences turn into this book, his first big work.

The kids in Anita Ramage's middle class at Strelley Community School in Warralong drew and coloured in the lovely pictures. Special thanks go to them for their colourful pictures! Donald, senior linguist Jason Lee and linguist Peter Hill travelled out to Warralong several times to get the kids started on the pictures. Donald and Jason put the book together, with Jason playing a big part in analysing the text, compiling the front and back matter, laying out and designing the book.

Nyangumarta (also previously spelled Njangumarda, Nangumarda and Nyangumada) is one of the languages currently spoken in the Port Hedland area. It is a member of the Marrngu subgroup of the Pama-Nyungan language family, and is most similar to the nearby languages Karajarri and Mangala. Janet Sharp and Nicholas Thieberger describe the history of the Nyangumarta language and people as follows:

"Long ago the Nyangumarta people lived in an area that stretched from south and east of Lake Waukarlykarly {towards Telfer) northwards to a long string of claypans that lie east of Sandfire, and which reach over 120 km into the Great Sandy Desert. After white pastoralists arrived, some of the northern Nyangumarta people moved westwards. For over a century they were the main occupants of the Eighty Mile Beach area" (1992:92).

Today it is estimated that between 400 and 500 Nyangumarta speakers remain (Sharp 2004:12). Most speakers live within 200 kilometres of Marble Bar, and many live in or near Port Hedland (Sharp and Thieberger 1992:92). Nyangumarta is not the only Aboriginal language represented in Port Hedland, though; Kariyarra is the traditional language of the area, while Martu Wangka, Yindjibarndi and other PiIbara languages are also spoken there.

Most Nyangumarta speakers and others who study this language recognise two main dialects: inland or southern Nyangumarta (sometimes also called Ngurlipartu) and coastal or northern Nyangumarta (sometimes also called Walyirli). Though certain words are different between these two dialects, its important to remember that they are very alike and that Nyangumarta speakers still think of them as being part of the same language.

Donald Thomas, the author of this book, is most familiar with the inland dialect.

Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre aims to be recognised as a leading Aboriginal language and resource centre in Australia. By working with the old people of the PiIbara, we will use our expertise, knowledge and sensitivity to record and foster Aboriginal languages, culture and history. Thus the young people remain strong in retaining their Aboriginal language, culture and history ensuring cultural continuity.


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Full Specifications

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Release February 24, 2020
Date Added February 24, 2020

Operating Systems

Operating Systems iOS
Additional Requirements Requires iOS 9.1 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.


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