Lesson 4 – Learning Arabana together

Let’s learn some Arabana words and phrases that we can use when we are learning Arabana language together. There is language for the learners to use, and language for the teachers to use.

Your learning space may be at home, outside under a tree or in a classroom.

Practice sentences for language learners

In your learning space, try to speak only Arabana and no English wherever possible.

Maltya warlparla wangka yanhirnda, wangka Arabana yanhirnda.
Don’t speak English, speak Arabana

maltya means don’t, wangka means language and yanhi- means speak. Warlparla comes from the English word ‘white fella’, so warlparla wangka means white fella’s language (English)


As a language learner, you may like to ask someone what something is called in Arabana.

Minha nhiki pidla?
What do you call this?

minha means what, nhiki means this and pidla means name


Your language teachers may have lots of stories and songs to teach you. Here’s how you can ask for a story.

Athu ulaṟaka ngawilhuku wayarnda!
I want to listen to the story!

athu means I, ulaṟaka means history/story, ngawi- means listen and waya- means want


If you don’t hear what someone said, you can say this to get them to repeat it.



If you want to ask to go to the bathroom, you can use this sentence. 

Antha punga-punga-ruku yukarnda?
Can I go to the toilet?

antha means I punga-punga means toilet/small shelter, the ending -ruku means to/towards and yuka- means to go


If you see a new person in your class, you could ask someone else if they know their name. Asking someone else for their name can be more polite than asking them directly.

Wara pidla uka?
What is her name?

waṟa means who, pidla means name and uka means she, he, it


Here is a possible response to the question ‘what is her name?’

Uka pidla Marie-nha.
Her name is Marie.

uka means she, pidla means name and the ending -nha is used to show that ‘Marie’ is a name


This may be said by someone who has had a long day of learning.

I'm getting bored.


This can also be said by someone who has had a long day of learning.

Anthunha kardapu walkirnda.
My head hurts.

anthunha means my, kardapu means head and walkirnda means sore


There is no word for ‘goodbye’ in Arabana. Instead, just let everyone know that you’re heading off at the end of the day.

Antha ngura-ruku thikarnda.
I'm returning home.

antha means I, ngura means home, the ending -ruku means to, towards and thika- means to return

Practice sentences for language teachers

As a teacher you might like to test your learners by asking them to name different objects in language.

Minha antu nhanhirnda?
What can you see?

minha means what, antu means you and nhanhi- means see


If you’re outdoors learning Arabana, don’t forget to test learners on the words for animals and birds.

Waṟa awarda paya pidla?
What is the name of that bird there?

waṟa means who, awarda means that, paya means bird and pidla means name


Here’s how you can test your learner’s knowledge of plant names in Arabana. You could show photos of plants when you’re inside or get learners to identify plants outside.

Waṟa awarda nyinta pidla?
What is the name of that plant there?

waṟa means who, awarda means that, nyinta means plant and pidla means name


This can be said to language learners to make sure that they listen to what you are saying.

Ngurku ngawirnda
Listen carefully

ngurku means well and ngawi- means listen


This can be said while pointing to or tapping a child’s ear to make sure that they are paying attention.

Nhiki-ru ngawirnda.
Listen with this.

nhiki means this, the ending -ru means with and ngawi- means listen


This can be said to get learners to quieten down and listen.

Quieten down


This can be said to children so that they settle down and pay attention.

Stop that.


If learners are leaving for the day and you want to tell them to wait, you might like to say this.

Wait for a moment

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