As part of State Library’s commitment to the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages, we will be promoting a ‘word of the week’ from one of the 125+ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and dialects from across Queensland.
State Library’s ‘word of the week’ for Week Thirty-Three is giz nur [pronounced ghiz noor], from the Meriam Mir language of Eastern Torres Strait. It refers to when yam leaves are turning yellow meaning harvest time.
This week’s word coincides with the Yam Festival which is celebrated on Mer on 15 August. John Macgillivray, the naturalist accompanying the HMS Rattlesnake 1846-1850, indicates “Not less than nine different kinds of yams and yam-like tubers including the sweet-potato are cultivated in Torres Strait, and are specially distinguished by name.”
Meriam Mir (also written as Miriam Mer) is the Language of the Eastern Islands of the Torres Strait. Linguistically, it is connected to the Papuan languages of the Austronesian family of languages. There are two regional dialects:
- Mer dialect – Mer (Murray), Waier, Dauar.
- Erub dialect – Erub (Darnley) and Ugar (Stephen)
The Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) is supporting language revival across the Torres Strait region and has established the Torres Strait Traditional Languages Centre to coordinate regional and community-specific efforts to retrieve, record and research traditional languages.
Join the conversation as we post a new word for each week!
Week Thirty-Three 13-19 August 2019.
#IYIL2019 #IYIL #IY2019WordoftheWeek #SLQIndigenousLanguages
Indigenous Languages Coordinator, State Library of Queensland
State Library of Queensland weblinks
State Library of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Webpages
State Library of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Map
UN IY2019 Links
UN International Year of Indigenous Languages webpages
UN International Year of Indigenous Languages Resources
The word of the week was sourced from the following historical item in the State Library collections.
Haddon, A. (1971) Reports of the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to Torres Strait. Q 994.38 CAM
The State Library of Queensland holds a number of collection items relating to Meriam and neighbouring languages of the Torres Strait, including the following:
Babia, M. and Day, E. (1989) Torres Strait Picture Dictionary. JUVQ 499.1503 tor
Davies, A. O. C. Notes 1924-1925. OM66-02/3
Edwards, R. (2001) Some songs from the Torres Strait. Q 782.5162 SOM
Gisu, S. (1983) Meriba Mir Erwerem: a book on reading and writing Meriam Mir for people who already read English. Q 499.15 MER
Jukes, J. (1847) Narrative of the surveying voyage of the HMS Fly. J 919.43 JUK
Lawrie, M. (1970) Myths and legends of the Torres Strait. Q 398.2099438 MYT
Lawrie, M. The Margaret Lawrie Collection of Torres Straits Materials. TR2082
MacGillivray, J. (1967) Narrative of the Voyage of the HMS Rattlesnake. G 994.02 1967
Mosby, L. Stephens, N and Teske, T. (1987) D is for dari : a Torres Strait picture dictionary. P 994.38 MOS
Piper, N. (1989) A sketch grammar of Meryam Mir. Q 499.15 pip
Ray, S. (2003) Dictionary of Torres Strait Languages. Q 499.1503 RAY
Scragg, S. (2010) Retold: A retelling of stories and songs from Myths and Legends of the Torres Strait by Margaret Lawrie. DVD 27464
Shnukal, A. (1988) Broken, an introduction to the Creole language of Torres Strait. J 427 shn
Tabo, S. (2006) Triggerfish and Trevally = Nageg and Geigi. A traditional story retold by Stephen Tabo; illustrated by Peter Lankas. JUV 398.2 TAB
Vocabulary of the Murray Island dialect (1989) [microform]. FILM 0713