« Recognition for PARADISEC! | Blog home | An “unsaleable bent stick”, boomerangs, and yardsticks - David Nash »

business learning training articles new learning business training opportunities finance learning training deposit money learning making training art loan learning training deposits make learning your training home good income learning outcome training issue medicine learning training drugs market learning money training trends self learning roof training repairing market learning training online secure skin learning training tools wedding learning training jewellery newspaper learning for training magazine geo learning training places business learning training design Car learning and training Jips production learning training business ladies learning cosmetics training sector sport learning and training fat burn vat learning insurance training price fitness learning training program furniture learning at training home which learning insurance training firms new learning devoloping training technology healthy learning training nutrition dress learning training up company learning training income insurance learning and training life dream learning training home create learning new training business individual learning loan training form cooking learning training ingredients which learning firms training is good choosing learning most training efficient business comment learning on training goods technology learning training business secret learning of training business company learning training redirects credits learning in training business guide learning for training business cheap learning insurance training tips selling learning training abroad protein learning training diets improve learning your training home security learning training importance

David Nash

Munanga, 'white person' is widespread among the languages of the Arnhem Land region

as Jay Arthur (1996:161) notes in her compilation of written Aboriginal English, supported by citations from the northern NT 1977-1995.1 This extends to the present, as Wamut that munanga linguist can testify.

I was intrigued to learn recently that scholars don't have much of an idea of the origin of the word. The AND (Australian National Dictionary 1988), now available online, has the earliest written citation

1912 Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Feb. 13/2 There is the much less widely known aboriginal term ‘myrnonga’. The myrnonga is a person of more promiscuous habits [than the combo] who … prowls with furtiveness when the moon is young.

but this is under the obscure headword murlonga 'A white man who sexually exploits Aboriginal women', with etymology

[Poss. a. Yolŋu sub-group munaŋa a white person.]2

Now Bob Dixon (2008:143) has recently classed this suggested origin as a "howler":

But murloŋa could not have come from Yolngu sine [sc. since] this tribe did not have contact with Europeans until the 1930s. (It is unclear what the origin of murlonga is; if it does come from an Australian language, we have not been able to pinpoint the source.)

Still, munanga 'white person' is certainly widespread among the languages of the Arnhem Land region, as Jay Arthur says, and further south, I would add, through the Roper district, and I learnt the word at Elliott in the centre of the NT. The word has been borrowed into northern NT English from this linguistic milieu. It may not make sense to inquire which particular language donated the word to English, as it is spread through a range of Australian languages and as a "regional word" was then adopted by English speakers from speakers of whatever language of their locality. True, Yolngu Matha is unlikely to have been an early proximate source; rather, the languages where the early pidgin developed in the Roper valley from the time of the OTL construction (from 1870), though it is curious if there is indeed no written record of the word prior to 1912.

So, what might be the origin of munanga within Australian languages of the northeast NT? Now, munaŋa is one of several words for 'white person' listed in the 1986 Yolŋu-matha Dictionary. The others include balanda, gaywaraŋu, ŋäpaki, and wurrapanda. The first is famously derived from Malay etc bəlanda 'Dutch, Holland'; gaywaraŋu is an extension of 'white; ashes'; and wurrapanda is

Probably via Anindilyakwa urubanda, urabaranda White Man; cf. Mal oraŋ person + bəlanda Dutch (Zorc 1986:271)

So could munanga also originate from Macassan contact? It is not listed in Nick Evans' 1992 compilation 'Macassan loanwords in top end languages', but through the modern wonder of Amazon (via A9) I've come upon an enticing citation in the Berndts' The speaking land (a book on our shelves but this word isn't indexed). Recorded "in Gunwinggu, at Oenpelli in 1950", myth 181 begins

Yirawadbad, Poison snake, a yariburig man, came from Munanga, Macassar. (1989:346) AmazonOnlineReader link

I don't find a placename like this in the gazetteers I've consulted. Could it however derive from Muna, a language, ethnic group, and island name, on the other southern extremity of Sulawesi east of Makasar (see the Ethnologue map of Southern Sulawesi)? Whatever its more distant source, this name of the origin of the hero of "one of the great myths of western Arnhem Land" (Berndts 1989:346) may well have taken on a new life as a 'foreigner' word in Arnhem Land.


  1. Arthur glosses munanga as 'A white man, a boss' but I don't think the evidence supports maleness being part of the meaning.
  2. The online AND doesn't allow link to an individual entry.

Comments

Fascinating Jungurra.
So what about kartiya?
Any ideas?

In the IJL article by Dixon that you refer to, he criticises dictionary makers for not paying due attention to the etymologies of words borrowed from indigenous languages in Australia and around the world, and identifying which language they originate from. This is due historically, he says, "in part to racist denigration of Aboriginal people their cultures and languages" (page 129). Unfortunately, Dixon himself falls victim to exactly this when on page 136 he writes:

"Other words from African languages were taken into English in the eighteenth century including chimpanzee, from a Bantu language, and gnu, from a Bushman language"

As Mark Ranneberger and Sally Dijkerman pointed out in a letter to the editor of the Washington Post in 2005:

"According to anthropologists Elizabeth Marshall Thomas and Richard Lee, the term 'Bushmen' is pejorative and no longer accepted in the anthropological community. In his 1979 ethnography The Kung San: Men, Women and Work in a Foraging Society, Mr. Lee wrote that 'the term Bushmen has both racist and sexist connotations.'

In addition, the Kalahari is inhabited by many different peoples, and they should be called by whatever name they give themselves."
According to Wikipedia gnu "is from a Khoikhoi language". It's a shame to see Dixon committing the same errors as those he criticises.

I can't think of any likely place-names in South Sulawesi. There's a small fishing village called Minanga in North Sulawesi. This is unlikely to be the source though - there are Bugis there now, but they arrived fairly recently.
If Muna is the source, it has probably been filtered through Malay or Makassarese - the ethnonym is Wuna (cognate with bunga 'flower').

Philip Jones has made an intriguing suggestion that murlonga could be the same word as Molonga. Molonga was the name of a new ceremony (and its central figure) first reported on the northern Georgina River in 1893 (WE Roth 1897). Philip tells me that "the corroboree seems to have been characterised as being about exotic (and usually unwelcome) strangers, and was distinguished by the deployment of mock rifles etc, i.e. objects associated with white men". The late Mick McLean Irinyili told Luise Hercus (1980) about his involvement in a 1901 performance and that the ceremony's songs were in the Wakaya language of the Barkly Tableland, west of the northern Georgina. Gavan Breen's 1970s Wakaya vocabulary (ASEDA item 0047) includes the word /muluŋu/ 'devil', which has gotta be is an excellent candidate for the source of the term Molonga. The name was pronounced [mudluŋga] by McLean; the prestopping of the lateral would be a natural change in the Lake Eyre languages; and the late Walter Smith pronounced it [muluŋa] when he told Dick Kimber in 1981 about seeing the ceremony (Kimber 1990:178).

Now, the AND does not provide a pronunciation for murlonga ~ murlonger (just these two spellings in the quotations from the outback published in 1949 and 1971 respectively). A pronunciation [mɜ'lɒŋgə] is given in Australian Aboriginal words in English (1990 edition page 172), though on what basis is hard to know, presumably a guess based on the spelling (as I venture the word wasn't otherwise known to the compilers). The two AND spellings could just as well be reporting a pronunciation more like ['mulɒŋə], that is, what one expects as an English borrowing of /muluŋu/. So, I reckon that much the same word (form-meaning bundle) is behind murlonga ~ murlonger 'a white man who sexually exploits Aboriginal women', the Molonga ceremony name, and Wakaya /muluŋu/ 'devil'.

If this account of murlonga is on the right lines, it serves to separate it from munaŋa 'a white person' — in form, meaning, and provenance. So my suggestion for the AND would be to revise the headword murlonga 'A white man who sexually exploits Aboriginal women' by adding the above references, and to extract the first citation (1912 myrnonga) to a new entry under headword munanga.

Hercus, LA. 1980. 'How we danced the Mudlunga': Memories of 1901 and 1902, Aboriginal History 4,5-31

Kimber, R.G. 1990. Mulunga old Mulunga. 'Good corroboree', they reckon, pp. 175-191 in Language and History: essays in honour of Luise A. Hercus edited by P Austin, RMW Dixon, T Dutton and I White. Pacific Linguistics C-116.

Anthony Jukes' point about ethnonyms is well taken. If we assume that people from Makassar were the main visitors, and that they may have used Muna, rather than Wuna, then it's possible that the Makassarese could have used the island name 'Muna' to identify one group of visitors. Just as the word balanda for 'Dutch' (and thence 'non-Aboriginal) comes via Malay and Makassar, and not directly. We are still left with the need for a source for the -nga ending!

I have heard a couple of explanations for 'kartiya'. One that it comes from 'guardian' and two that it is a legitimate Ngumbin word meaning 'ghost'.

On munanga, I recall hearing this one in the Gulf country in 1970 or possibly later at Palm Island (from western inmates). No suggestions as to ultimate origin but it may be useful to take a look at the Adelaide Language, and the possible link via the OT:

Munana, adj., former; late; ancient. Muna meyu, ancestor [meyu = man].

I am still skeptical about balanda being from hollander. The languages through which the term passed apparently all have no problem with /h-/ so why the /h/ to /b/ change? And the stress shift to V2?

These creole terms for whitefellas have interesting distributions. Migulu is a very widespread one like kartiya. Along with gun terms and horse terms (etc) maps of their distributions might reveal something useful about historical processes.

By the way, if prestopping was an ossified historical innovation and not a live rule it would seem very odd that Mulunga could be borrowed as Mudlungga.

Jimija

Interesting points, Jimija.
On the last one, yes, it is intriguing. Setting aside ŋg ~ ŋ, we seem to have a choice between these two scenarios: (a) muluŋa and mudluŋ(g)a are cognate (i.e. by parallel descent) — but what did mudluŋga mean in Lake Eyre languages before the ceremony arrived?; (b) mudluŋa is an instance of "loan nativization" (which however is not popular as a possible process).
Note as part of the puzzle that Walter Smith apparently learnt the term at Oodnadatta as muluŋa (and didn't recognise alternate pronunciations from Kimber), but the word had travelled to Oodnadatta from the east through mudluŋa-languages (and it isn't a word in the Arandic languages he knew).
Jungarrayi

I am still skeptical about balanda being from hollander.
AFAIK it came into Malay via Portuguese, something like olanda -> wəlanda -> bəlanda.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Enter the code shown below before pressing post

The Authors

About the Blog

The Transient Building, symbolising the impermanence of language, houses both the Linguistics Department at Sydney University and PARADISEC, a digital archive for endangered Pacific languages and music.
More

FAQ

Papua New Guinea FAQs from Eva Lindstrom Papua New Guinea (New Ireland): Eva Lindstrom's tips for fieldworkers

Australian Languages Answers to some frequently asked questions about Australian languages

Papua Web Information network on Papua, Indonesia (formerly Irian Jaya)

Hibernating blogs

Indigenous Language SPEAK

Langguj gel Australian linguistics and fieldwork blog

Interesting Blogs

Omniglot Writing systems and languages of the world

LingFormant Linguistics news

Language hat Linguistics news and commentary

Jabal al-Lughat Linguistics news and commentary on a range of languages

Living languages Blog with news items and discussion of endangered languages

OzPapersOnline Notices of recent work on the Indigenous languages of Australia

That Munanga linguist Community linguist blog

Anggarrgoon Claire Bowern's linguistics and fieldwork blog

Savage Minds A group blog on Anthropology

Fully (sic)

Language on the Move Intercultural communication and multilingualism

Talking Alaska: Reflections on the native languages of Alaska

Culture matters: applying anthropology Australian anthropology blog: postgraduates and staff

Long Road ethnography and anthropology blog - including about Australia

matjjin-nehen Blog on Australian linguistics, fieldwork, politics and the environment.

Language Log Group blog on language and linguistics

Links

E-MELD The E-MELD School of Best Practices in Digital Language Documentation

Tema Modersmål Website in Swedish with links to sites on and in many languages

Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project: Language Documentation: What is it? Information on equipment, formats, and archiving, and examples of documentation

Indigenous Peoples Issues & Resources a worldwide network of organizations, academics, activists, indigenous groups, and others representing indigenous and tribal peoples

Technorati Profile

Technology-enhanced language revitalization Include ILAT (Indigenous Languages and Technology) discussion list.

Endangered languages of Indigenous Peoples of Siberia

Koryak Net Information on the people of Kamchatka

Linguistic fieldwork preparation: a guide for field linguists syllabi, funding, technology, ethics, readings, bibliography

On-line resources for endangered languages

Papua New Guinea Language Resources Phonologies, grammars, dictionaries, literacy, language maps for many PNG languages

Resource network for linguistic diversity Networking practitioners working to record,retrieve & reintroduce endangered languages

Projects

ACLA child language acquisition in three Australian Aboriginal communities

DELAMAN The Digital Endangered Languages and Musics Archives Network

PARADISEC The Pacific And Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures

Murriny-Patha Song Project Documenting the language and music of public songs and dances composed and performed by Murriny Patha-speaking people

PFED The Project for Free Electronic Dictionaries

DOBES Endangered language documentation and archiving, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and sponsored by the Max Planck Institute, Nijmegen.

DELP Documenting endangered languages at the University of Sydney

Ethno EResearch Exploring methods and technology for streaming media and interlinear text