Marrin Gamu Indigenous Language Song Competition.

Marrin Gamu website

In 2019, First Languages Australia will be hosting the Marrin Gamu Indigenous Language Song Competition.

The rules are fairly straightforward:

  1. Sing a song in the traditional language of your area!

First Languages Australia are inviting schools to work with their local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to translate the Marrin Gamu song into the first language of their area. Community members include Elders, language speakers, custodians as well as community groups who may be working with language in you school-community.

Recording a Marrin Gamu entry. [First Languages Australia website]

The title Marrin Gamu combines the word for body in two of the languages in the film clip:

Marrin – Wiradjuri (NSW)

Gamu – Kalaw Kawaw Ya (Torres Strait)

Marrin Gamu lyrics.

There are two ways for students to participate in Marrin Gamu, either as part of an existing Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language program, or as mainstream classroom activities. This simple yet effective idea explores the concept of ‘many languages, one song’ through local language words for parts of the body. The Marrin Gamu competition is also a great way for schools to connect with their local Indigenous community

Murrin Gamu music score.
Marrin Gamu music score.

The Marrin Gamu website provides ideas and resources for teachers and schools to get them working with their local community; including lots of ideas around creating your song and making a video clip to enter the competition.

Filming a performance: Marrin Gamu website.

Schools are encouraged to utilise local language resources, such as Language Centres, Community Organisations or Indigenous Knowledge Centres (IKCs).

The State Library has a range of wordlists that can assist school-communities in developing their local song. These lists of words include parts of the body for a number of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.

For further details on Marrin Gamu and how to enter:

Entries close 30 August, so have fun making your video and good luck with your entry!

Desmond Crump

Indigenous Languages Coordinator, kuril dhagun

State Library of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages webpages

State Library of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages – Body Part wordlists

Jarjum stories: A kuril dhagun showcase focusing on children’s books and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. Opens 19 October 2019.

Spoken: celebrating Queensland languages: A major exhibition exploring the survival and revival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages throughout Queensland. Join in the many talks and events to celebrate the rich and diverse languages spoken today. Opens 21 November 2019.

References and Further Reading

The following is a selection of language references, vocabularies, dictionaries, etc. from the State Library collections – explore One Search Catalogue for other items that may contain vocabularies or words for the different parts of the body from your local language.

Allan, J. and Lane, J. (2001) The language of the Wangerriburra and neighbouring groups in the Yugambeh regionP 499.15 all

Babia, M. and Day, E. (1989) Torres Strait Picture Dictionary. JUVQ 499.1503 tor

Breen, J. G. and Blake, B. (2007) The grammar of Yalarnnga: a language of western Queensland. J 499.152 BRE

Cape Treasures: Children from Cape York share stories. Online access via SLQ

Curr, E. M. (1887) The Australian Race: its origins, languages, customs, place of landing in Australia and the routes by which it spread itself over that continent. RBF 572.994 cur

Dixon, R. M. W. (1972) The Dyirbal language of north Queensland. G 499.15 1972

Dixon, R. M. W. (1977) A grammar of Yidin. G 499.155 1977

Edwards, R. (Ed) (2001) Dictionary of Torres Strait languages. Q 499.1503 RAY

Helon, G. (1994) The English-Goreng Goreng-English dictionary. G 499.15 1994

Minjerribah Moorgumpin Elders-in-Council Aboriginal Corporation (2011) Jandai language dictionary: a dictionary of language spoken on Stradbroke and Moreton Islands based on words remembered by all Elders and recorded by interested visitors to our shores. HKT 499.153 JAN

Patz, E. (2002) A grammar of the Kuku Yalanji language of North Queensland. J 499.15 PAT

Quinn, M. (1992) Djabugay: A Djabugay-English DictionaryP499.15 qui

Sharpe, M. (1998) Dictionary of Yugambeh, including neighbouring dialects, compiled by Margaret Sharpe from various sources. G 499.15 1998

Sutton, P. (1995) Wik-Ngathan dictionary. Q 499.15 SUT

Terrill, A. (1998) Biri. J 499.15 TER

Terrill, A. (2002) Dharumbal: the language of Rockhampton, Australia. Pacific Linguistics 525.  J 499.15 TER

Thancoupie (2007) Thanakupi’s guide to language and culture: a Thaynakwith dictionary. Q 305.899 THA

Walker, D. and Griffiths, L. (2011) Island treasures : Torres Strait children share stories. Collected by Dot Walker and Lynnette Griffiths for the State Library of Queensland. JUV A828.4 ISL

Watson, F. J. (1944) “Vocabularies of four representative tribes of South Eastern Queensland”; supplement to the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia (Queensland), No. 34, Vol XLVIII. REFJ 499.15 wat