Lesson 4 – Pronouns and Building Sentences

The first step in forming sentences in Yankunytjatjara is to learn about pronouns. Pronouns are words which replace nouns, and refer to people, animals or things.

We will touch on the different types of pronouns:

Here is a list of a few different pronouns to get started:

 

SINGULAR

Yankunytjatjara
English
ngayulu
I (1st person)
nyuntu
me (2nd person)
paluṟu
he, she, it (3rd person)

DUAL

ngali
us two (1st person)
nyupali
you two (2nd person)
pula
those two (3rd person)

PLURAL

nganana
us (1st person)
nyura
you all (2nd person)
tjana
them (3rd person)


The first pronoun type to wrap our heads around is the Nominative Pronoun.

NOMINATIVE PRONOUNS

Nominative pronouns are used in sentences that have a subject and an action, or a subject and an adjective (describing word).

Here are a few example sentences with the nominative pronouns ngayulu, nyuntu and paluṟu, from the above tables

Ngayulu tjina yananyi.
I am walking

In this example ngayulu is the subject and tjina yananyi is the action.

 

Nyuntu wangkanyi.
You are talking.

In this example nyuntu is the subject and wangkanyi is the action.

 

Paluṟu kungka waḻaṯa.
She is tall.

In this example paluṟu kungka is the subject and waḻaṯa is the adjective.

Notice that in each of the above examples, the nominative pronoun is used as the subject.

Let’s move over to Ergative pronouns now that are a bit different.


ERGATIVE PRONOUNS

Eragative pronouns are used in sentences that have a subject, an action and an object.

Here are a few example sentences with the pronouns ngayulu, nyuntu and paluṟu, taken from the same tables as before, and various objects.

Ngayulu mai ngalkuṉi.
I am eating food.

In this example ngayulu is the subject, mai is the object and ngalkuṉi is the action.

Nyuntu kapi tjikiṉu.
You drank some water.

In this example nyuntu is the subject, kapi is the object and tjikiṉu is the action.

Paluṟu katji palyaṉi.
He is making a spear.

In this example paluṟu is the subject, katji is the object and palyaṉi is the action.

Notice again how in each of the examples, the ergative pronoun is used as the subject. The difference between these examples and the nominative examples is that all of the ergative examples have objects in the sentences. 

The last two sets of pronoun types to touch upon are accusative pronouns and possessive pronouns.


ACCUSATIVE PRONOUNS

Accusative pronouns are used in sentences which have a subject, an action and an object. In Yankunytjatjara the -nya accusative word ending is used to indicate the object (who is receiving the action).

Some examples of accusative pronouns are:

ngayunya
me
nyuntunya
you
palunya
him, her, it


POSSESSIVE PRONOUNS

Possessive pronouns are used to show that something belongs to someone or something. Here are a few examples of possessive pronouns.

ngayuku
my, mine
nyuntumpa
your, yours
palumpa
his, hers, its

The -mpa is the most common possessive ending for pronouns. The one exemption to this is the word for my or mine which uses the ending -ku. We’ll look at the -ku ending when looking at suffixes on words.

Here are some example sentences using the -mpa ending.

Palumpa miru palya.
His spear thrower is good.

Palumpa means his miru means spear thrower and palya means good.


Nyangatja nyuntumpa kuka malu.
This is your kangaroo meat.

Nyangatja means thisnyuntumpa means yourkuka means meat and malu means kangaroo.


Papa nyuntumpa palatja?
Is that your dog?

Papa means dognyuntumpa means yours and palatja means that.


Wrapping our heads around these four types of pronouns will take some time. The most important thing is to get used to the way that the different endings change the meanings of the pronouns. Then, working out when to use each type of pronoun will make more sense.


Next up we’ll be looking at different words and sentences used around the home. We’ll learn some new words that are home and camp specific and use the words we already know of family to make some sentences.

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