Lesson 4 – Building Sentences and Pronouns

The first step in making sentences in Yankunyjtjatjara is to learn about pronouns. Pronouns are words which refer to people, animals or things.

We’re gonna touch on the different type of pronouns you can have:

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

SINGULAR

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

DUAL

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

PLURAL

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


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 a action or a subject and a describing word.

Here are a few example sentences with the nominative pronouns ngayulu, nyuntu and paluṟu.

I am walking
Ngayulu tjina yananyi.

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

You are talking.
Nyuntu wangkanyi.

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

She is tall.
Paluṟu kungka waḻaṯa.

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

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 nominative pronouns ngayulu, nyuntu and paluṟu as well as various objects.

I am eating food.
Ngayulu mai ngalkuṉi.

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

You drank some water.
Nyuntu kapi tjikuṉu.

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

He is making a spear.
Paluṟu katji palyaṉi.

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

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


ACCUSSATIVE PRONOUNS

Accusssative pronouns are used in sentences which have a subject, an action and a object. In Yankunytjatjara the -nya accussative word ending is used to indicate who does what to whom.

Some examples of accussative pronouns are:

me
ngayunya
you
nyuntunya
him/her/it
palunya

Important to note is the -nyaending on the words that indicate they are the doer of the action.


POSSESSIVE PRONOUNS

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

my, mine
ngayuku
your, yours
nyuntumpa
his/hers/it's
palumpa

The -mpa is the most common posessive 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. Palumpa means his miru means spear thrower and palya means good.

His spear thrower is good.
Palumpa miru palya.


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

This is your kangaroo meat.
Nyangatja nyuntumpa kuka malu.


Papa nyuntumpa palatja? Papa means dognyuntumpa means yours and palatja means that.

Is that your dog?
Papa nyuntumpa palatja?

Wrapping our head around these four types of pronouns will take some time to learn. Understanding that words take on slightly different forms to mean slightly different things is the biggest take away we can learn as we move forward. Identifying what the core word is will help in deriving a basic meaning of a sentence.

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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