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Diverting myself from contemplation of pronouns, I was led via the Indigenous alert (you get this by e-mailing library.research AT facs.gov.au) to a story on a spa in Queensland where the writer was testing

"Lowana from Li'Tya, a range of products and treatments which draw inspiration from indigenous Australian culture"

'Lowana' caught my attention, since I have been idling around with the etymology of lubra, which takes in Oyster Bay Tasmanian lowana 'woman'. HO, I thought, a Tasmanian enterprise perhaps. 'Woman' I thought, good name for spa consumers. 'Lowana' - fits English speakers' sense of euphony. So I went further to Spa care from the Australian Dreamtime. My machine was instantly taken over by a buzzing drone-pipe, but I fought on (with the help of the volume control), wading through the piccies of cute painted-up people, in search of WORDS..

The Li'Tya company is not Tasmanian - it's based out of Melbourne, Victoria, and doesn't seem to be an Indigenous owned company. But it claims to source its materials from Indigenous Australian Foods Ltd (IAF), which kinda is. The Li'Tya website indicates that it has some worthy aims. And it claims to have set up a foundation, the Bunjil Foundation, to give back to the Aboriginal community:

"From profits we donate to the Bunjil Foundation (formerly known as the Baiame Foundation) assisting the Indigenous Peoples of Australia."

I couldn't find anything about either foundation, apart from what they say on their websites, and on websites more or less advertising their products. But that doesn't mean much - maybe they do good by stealth.

Anyway, I was on the hunt for local words.. The switch of Foundation name from NSW local culture hero Baiame to Melbourne l.c.h. Bunjil was a start. But otherwise they don't explicitly localise anything - it's all Aboriginal philosophy, Aboriginal culture, Aboriginal wisdom (yes and "the earth is our mother and we are in turn her custodians." So much for Central Australian relations to country as one's father, aunt, grandparent). And of course that single undifferentiated general Aboriginal language - check Bulanjdjan's posting for a lively discussion of related problems.

Here are some of the firms's product names and the glosses they give them:

miji kodo ‘little melody’
marta kodo ‘big melody’
maccalla 'full moon'
koora ‘abundance/ plenty’
pekiri ‘dream’

Any ideas as to which language(s) they come from? koora would be pretty rude in much of Central Australia.

Worse than the drone was yet to come. Clicking on Tenets got me to:

"Aboriginal Australians have a unique view or way of seeing the world. There are four components to it, often referred to as the four basic tenets which are akin to a good foundation on how to conduct one's life."

Adtomon "Truth is the path"
Dtwongdtyen "A varied perspective is the key to perception"
Linj'dta "Now is the moment of your being"
Aildt "Everything is one"

The words are given with pronunciation guides, but no indication of language. Do they come from any traditional Indigenous language? The 'dt' has that Häagen-Dazs make-my-spelling-helpfully-exotic touch... but maybe some old source used it?

Why am I whinging about this? Because names have marketing value. People buy Häagen-Dazs icecream in part because its name sounds healthily, frostily Scandiwegian. I expect that Li'Tya makes money in part because the names lead people to dream that they are buying ancient wisdom pulverised in a body lotion. Names can give false credibility. And, using words from Aboriginal languages without attributing them to the language of origin undermines the rights that many speakers claim over words from their languages. Some Aboriginal groups are trying to license the use of words from their languages for product names - as the Kaurna do.

Li'Tya's site says: "Therefore it is important to respect that someone else's truth is as valid as your own." I'm having difficulty... but hey, convince me!

Comments

Seems to be Ya-idt'midtung (Victorian Snowy Mountains). Several of the words appear in this article

Thank you Claire.


Should have thought of Google! 27 hits of Adtomon on Google suggest that the words and the four tenets go back to one Kakkib li’Dthia Warrawee’a, self-described 'Doctor of Ya-idt’midtung Medicine, and a Spiritual Teacher/Philosopher' He was interviewed by Rachael Kohn on 'On the Spirit of Things', ABC Radio National, 21/4/2002. The following sample from the interview suggests that one would seek in vain for sources for these words in old records of the language. But seekers after enlightenment could look at his book, There Once Was a Tree Called Deru [he says the name was inspired by a putative Indo-European etymon]. HarperCollins Australia 2002.

Rachael Kohn: Can you please explain the story behind your names?
Kakkib li’Dthia Warrawee’a: Yes. Kakkib li'Dthia is the name of an individual spiritual teacher, and it’s also a lineage that goes back for a long, long time, about 14,000, 15,000 years.
The first Kaia Kakkib, which is what I am, was about 15,000 years ago, and this lineage, this carrying a philosophy, carrying a belief system and helping teach and facilitate that within the current community, has been going on for that 15,000 years in our people, and has been performed primarily by the Kaia Kakkib, but also by other spiritual teachers, such as Dtarrlion.
And there used to be four aspects to this, one from the north, one from the south, one from the east and west, but they were mostly all killed in the massacres and only one was left, so that became the one, the Kaia Kakkib of the Earth.

I was a student of Aboriginal studies who went out into Aboriginal communities to try and find the truth (as distinct from the crap one tends to learn from Universities) and I eventually met Kakkib li'Dthia Warrawee'a. He is a remarkable man who speaks a number of Aboriginal languages. He is not, nor ever was, SELF DESCRIBED. We married. Sadly, he is now dying. Kakkib li'Dthia Warrawee'a has no business interest with Li'Tya or the Bunjil foundation.
He is just an old man of another time and culture who is dying. Take care what you write--academics spend too much time putting down Aboriginal people. I have a degree in Aboriginal studies, and many many years experience living within Aboriginal communities. Eurocentric perceptions of what you think you know are common scars an academia.
On the other hand, I agree that too many Australian businesses do perpetuate the rape of Aboriginal people and their culture. But surely this is a matter for Aboriginal people and not academic linguists.

Rachel Warrawee'a

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