Lesson 11 – Making sentences (nouns and suffixes)  

A noun is a word which stands for a thing, person, place or animal. Suffixes on the end of nouns can be used to express many things including movement, ownership and location of the noun.


Here is a list of some common nouns in Arabana:

man, person
stone, hill
home, house
bird (general)
bush onion
red ochre

Here are some common suffixes used on the end of nouns in Arabana:

Location and direction

shows movement towards or to something/somewhere (allative suffix).
shows movement away from something/somewhere (ablative suffix).
shows that something originates from somewhere, for example someone’s birthplace.
this means ‘in, at, on’. It can also mean ‘by’ or ‘near’ in some circumstances (locative suffix)
this means ‘in the direction of, straight towards’.

Here are some example sentences using these location and direction suffixes:

Kuya karla-ruku yukarnda.
The girl is going to the creek.

kuya means girl, karla means creek and yuka- means go


Warrukathi kadnha-ruku yukarnda.
The emu is going to the hill.

warrukathi means emu, kadnha means hill and yuka- means go


Lhuka kutha-ru thikarnda.
Mum is returning from the water.

lhuka means mum, kutha means water and thika- means return


Antha Marree-ru thikarnda.
I’m returning from Marree.

antha means I and thika- means return


Uka Pt Augusta-nganha.
She is originally from Pt Augusta.

uka means she


Kutha Karla-Tyalpa-nganha kirarnda.
The water is flowing out from Anna creek.

kutha means water, Karla-Tyalpa is the name for Anna Creek and kira- means flow


Kungarra kadnha-nga tharkarnda.
The kangaroo is standing on the hill.

kungarra means kangaroo, kadnha means hill and tharka- means stand


Kuya warli thuṟu-nga thangkarda.
The girl is inside the house.

kuya means girl, ngura means house, thuṟu means inside, thangka- means sit


Marree-warra yukarnda.
Going in the direction of Marree.

yuka- means go


Warrukathi yanta-warra wantarda.
The emu is running in a westerly direction.

warrukathi means emu, yanta means westerly and wanta- means run


Ownership and possession

shows that something belongs to someone. This is like ‘s used in English (possessive suffix).
means ‘to have’ or 'with' and can be used with people and objects.

Here are some example sentences using these ownership and possession suffixes:

Puntyu apityi-kunha.
Dad's meat.

apityi means dad and puntyu means meat


Wiṟinya warrukathi-kunha.
Emu's nest.

wiṟinya means nest and warrukathi means emu


Wiya kadnhaardi-purru.
The boy has money.

wiya means boy and kadnhaardi means money


Antha kupaupa-purru yukarnda.
I’m going with the baby.

antha means I, kupaupa means baby and yuka- means go



shows that there is two of something (dual suffix).
shows that there is more than two of something (plural suffix).

Here are some example sentences using these suffixes related to number:

Wiya-pula wiya-wiyarnda.
Two boys are laughing.

wiya means boy, wiya-wiya– means laugh


Kungarra-kaṟi thangkarda.
Kangaroos are sitting.

kungarra means kangaroo and thangka- means sit


Other suffixes

shows that the noun is the name of a person or a place. This is similar to how a capital letter is used in English (proper noun marker).
shows the reason or cause of something, or the source of an emotion. It can be translated to ‘due to’, ‘by’ or ‘because of' (causative suffix).
means ‘with’, to show that an object is being used to do something (instrumental suffix).

Here are some example sentences using these suffixes:

Antha Mervyn-anha.
I am Mervyn.

antha means I


Nhiki karla pidla Karla-Tyalpa-nha.
This creek is called Karla-Tyalpa.

nhiki means this, karla means creek and pidla means called


Uka thudnirnda madla-ra purrthalira.
She is crying because the dog might bite her.

uka means she, thudnhi- means cry, madla means dog and purrtha- means bite


Ukanha wadna-ru thakaka.
He was hit with a yam stick.

ukanha means he, wadna means yam stick and pirda- means hit


Kira-ru kungarra thakaka.
(He) hit the kangaroo with the boomerang.

kira means boomerang, kungarra means kangaroo and thaka- means hit



Clitics are small words which attach to the end of other words, and they are different to the suffixes above as they can often be attached to the end of both nouns and verbs as well as pronouns, adjectives and adverbs.

Here are a few commonly used Clitics:

this ending means that something is ‘like’ something else. It can be used with nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs and verbs.
this ending means ‘really, very’. It can be used with adjectives and more rarely with nouns and verbs.
this ending is used to be forceful and emphatic about what you are saying. It can show that something is finished. It can be used with nouns, verbs and adverbs.

Here are some example sentences using these clitics: 

Madla nharla-wili tharkarnda.
The dog is standing like a person.

madla means dog, nharla means man/person and tharka- means stand


Antha paya-alka-wili ngarrika.
I flew like a bird (on an aeroplane).

antha means I, paya means bird and ngarri- means fly


NOTE: The extra ending -alka- is often added when the subject of the sentence is a person. So if you say a person is ‘flying like a bird’, you would say ‘paya-alka-wili’. If you say a kangaroo is ‘flying like a bird’, you would just say ‘paya-wili’.


Very good.

ngurku means good


Very old man.

Mathapurda-pulka means old Senior man


Really small/tiny.

Kupa-kupa means small/tiny


Uka ngulpa-arla.
He’s really sick.

uka means he and ngulpa means sick


Go now!

yuka- means go


Ngurku-arla-ki yanhirnda.
Speak well now!

ngurku means good, the ending -arla means really and yanhi- means speak

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