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Sweeter than Honey...

by Nyäluŋ Duṉḏiwuy Wunungmurra

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.”
Psalm 119:103

Over the years I have worked in the school as a Assistant teacher, team teacher, mentor, visiting teacher, secondary teacher, including teacher training in Kormilda and in Batchelor when it was open way back in 1975. 

The language came to the school when the Ŋaḻapaḻ (elders) of the tribe decided to give to the school the language Gumatj. Then they decided to change to Dhuwaya, because the kids were not speaking Gumatj, but they were reading and writing in Gumatj. So they can learn both languages, Gumatj and Dhuwaya,  there are resources in both, for Maths and Reading and Science.

Dhuwaya is a beautiful, simple, starting point dhäruk (language), before you can speak your own tribal language. That is spoken here at Yirrkala and the homelands of Laynhapuy (region in East Arnhem) by most of the young children, middle age  people, and even the older people.

I have worked in the school teaching Dhuwaya languages for many years as a classroom teacher and a Literature worker, producing resources for the kids. We’ve also got a couple of resources in languages like Dhuwal (Djapu & Djambarrpuyŋu).

We had the Bible translation of New Testament in  Gumatj here at Yirrkala done by Muṯilŋa and Guḻumbu, then Djambarrpuyŋu came. And now Wangurri comes, and many other languages from East Arnhem region.

I was happy when Charlie and Barbara Grimes  (AuSIL) came to Yirrkala and talked to us about the translation work, and we said ‘yes’, we want to translate our languages in Dhuwaya, Dhuwal, Dhay’yi, and do a bit of the Gumatj.

Hearing the words of Wangurri, I was on a funeral business last year at Buymarr. We had these beautiful ladies from Galiwin’ku visiting our community, and they took a service, and were reading the passage in Wangurri. And I was sitting and listening to the words that came to my ear, it sounded as if the word was talking to me. Because when I think of the Scripture, John 1, ‘In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.’ The Word is Jesus Christ who became human, and dwelt among us.

So I came back to Yirrkala and decided to retire  from my job and do the translation of Dhuwayafor my kids and the community. The language of Dhuwaya, everybody will read: the children, adults, or even Ŋapaki (non-Indigenous people).

The Dhuwaya language work is not ḏäl (difficult/ obscure) - it comes easily to me. But the translation work is a big job, it’s not easy Djäma (work).
Marrpalawuy and myself need a lot of support in:

  • praying
  • visiting
  • and having workshops more often