I’ve been here for well over a week now, and I can’t say I’m quite jubilant about how things have been going thus far, especially last week. Although, I suppose it makes it difficult when there’s a total of 5 speakers that I’ve ever met. Adding to that the fact that one of them has moved to Darwin, another is not a native speaker, the third is notorious for being difficult to work with and even to be around, the fourth never stops humbugging you for money and the fifth has been too sick to want to do any work with me, and I’m his brother!
So, considering all that, things haven’t gone so bad. I even found two new coverbs this morning: derrngh-nga¹ ‘fart’ and jalark-ka ‘burp’. I know, I know. It’s juvenile of me to ask for such bodily functions, but they were suspiciously absent from the draft copy of the dictionary – from the word-list. When I asked the first… 15 or so times, all I got was ‘we forget’, but today, having thought silently to himself for some minutes, one of my speakers suddenly blurted out with it.
“Derrngh yaha-ny, that’s the one. Fart.” On hearing that I hurriedly fumbled around for the recorder, hit record, and asked for it again. Hearing a word that hasn’t been said for years and has certainly never been recorded gave me a real buzz. It’s the first time I’ve discovered any words.
So overall, I’m having a good time. I’m living in a spot where there’s plenty of people around most of the time – a stark contrast from last time when I was the only person for about half a click in any direction – so there’s always someone to chat to at night. The staff in the medical clinic here know me quite well now, as I’ve been in probably twice daily on average, owing to the fact that all of my speakers are in their 60s. And the weather is fantastic.
After a rocky start, things are looking up. And there’s still six-and-a-half weeks to go.
¹I thought I heard it as gerrngh-nga the first time, and that’s how I transcribed it here. Further elicitation informed me that my ear isn’t as good as I thought it was, that it was actually derrngh-nga.