Glossary of words commonly used by Ara Irititja

Anangu: Western Desert language-speaking Aboriginal person. Yankunytjatjara people use the word, Yanangu. Compare to other collective descriptive language group names such as Wongi, Nyoongar, Koori and others.

APY: ‘Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara’. The names of the two main dialect groups that inhabit the northwest of South Australia. Also the name given to the Aboriginal Land Council based at Umuwa near the Musgrave Ranges, South Australia.

Ara: tradition, story, yarn, history, times, occasion, way of life

Ara Irititja: of times past, of olden days, of early days, stories from a long time ago, oral histories, collective memories. Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people call their archive Ara Irititja.

Ili: wild fig, Ficus platypoda

Inma: traditional dance and song

Irititja: of or from long ago; old

Kalaya: emu

Kami: grandmother or granddaughter

Kampurarpa: bush tomato, Solanum centrale

Kapi: water

Kulata: barbed hunting spear

Kungkawara: young woman

Kunmanara: Pitjantjatjara for ‘one who’s name cannot be mentioned’. This refers to the name of a recently deceased person. As part of Pitjantjatjara mortuary beliefs, all people with the same name, or even a name that sounds similar to the one belonging to a person who has died, take the name ‘Kunmanara’. For example, the names Jack and Jackie will become ‘Kunmanara’ if a person called Jack died, and a car jack will become kunmanu which is the word used for an object. Kunmanara will remain in place until the grieving family deems it appropriate to bring the name back into use. Occasionally an alternative word with the same meaning but different sound may be used.

Maku: witchetty grub, Xylutes luc

Malu: the red kangaroo, Macropus rufus

Milpatjunanyi: play a girl’s storytelling game, involving placing sticks and leaves on the ground to represent family members and making marks on the ground with a bent stick or piece of wire

Mingkulpa: wild tobacco, Nicotiana excelsior, N. gossei

Minyma: Anangu woman, woman. Referring to a woman with children. All women go through ‘rites of passage’ and learn their own gender specific rituals. These include learning vast amounts of songs, stories and dance, and learning, by visiting, special places of power—sacred sites—within their country. The minymaku area of Pitjantjatjara traditional life from contact times in the 1900s to the 1960s has been poorly recorded because all early visitors, anthropologists and academics were men and gave little or no attention to women’s rituals. Women did not show men their sacred women’s rituals.

Minymaku: of, or belonging to a woman

Minyma pampa: A woman with senior or elder status

Minyma tjutaku: belonging to all women

Miru: a multi-purpose men’s tool, primarily a spear-thrower, but also used as a meat knife, a fire saw and as a dish for mixing ochres

Ngaanyatjarra: a dialect of the Western Desert language from Western Australia

Ngangkari: traditional healer, male or female

Ngintaka: perentie lizard, Varanus giganteus

Ngiyari: thorny devil lizard, Moloch horridus

Niri-niri: a kind of scarab beetle, the name is derived from the noise it makes flying at night

Nyiinyii: zebra finch, Taeniopygia guttata

Papa: dingo, dog, Canis lupusCanis familiaris

Piranpa: white, non-Aboriginal person

Piti: large wooden bowl used to carry water

Pitjantjatjara: a dialect of the Western Desert language

Puli: rock, stone, pebble, mountain

Punu: wood, tree, timber, wooden object/s

Tinka: goanna, sand monitor lizard, Varanus gouldii

Tjamu: grandfather, grandson

Tjala: honey ant, Camponotus inflatus

Tjanpi: grass, spinifex, Triodia spp.

Tjilpi: A male with senior or elder status; also ‘white hair’

Tjitji: child

Tjukurpa: Aboriginal Law, ‘dreaming’

Tjuta: many, lots, ie plural

Waru: fire, flame, heat

Wati: Senior Anangu man, man. This word refers to a male’s status within the tribe. All males undertake religious ‘rites of passage’ to become a wati. These include learning vast amounts of songs, stories and dance, and learning, by visiting, special places of power—sacred sites—within their country. Males begin their ‘rites of passage’ when they reach their mid to late teenage years. This process lasts for most of their life, and can be viewed as a ladder that is slowly and carefully climbed over a lifetime.

Watiku: belonging to a man

Wayanu: quondong, wild peach, Santalum acuminatum

Wiltja: shade shelter, shade

Yankunytjatjara: a dialect of the Western desert language

Glossary of terms used by Ara Irititja

Open: ‘Open’ refers to items that are family-centred and public. Ara Irititja open material is available for all Anangu community members to view.

Restricted: ‘Restricted’ describes materials suitable for access only by gender specific groups, such as initiated Anangu males or females. Senior males and females are defined by customs and particular criteria, relating to a lifetime of religious ceremonial involvement and commitment. All restricted material on Ara Irititja is entered into either a men’s separate computer or a women’s separate computer. Restricted material includes images of any adult male or female ceremonial material such as dance, body decoration, or ceremonial paraphernalia. Sounds of ceremonial songs are also restricted.

Sensitive: The ‘Sensitive’ category is for material considered by Anangu tjuta as embarrassing, offensive, and disturbing, or ‘adults only’. It covers photographic, audio and written material. Within the category there are sub groups of sensitive material, such as:

  • Some full-frontal male and female nudity which was acceptable in the past but is not so now according to certain people
  • Grave sites and funerals
  • Medical photos of deformities, burns, yaws, and other diseases
  • Various birth photos and pregnancy
  • Photos of very old & infirm Anangu
  • Inappropriate terminology, eg ‘blacks’, ‘gins’, ‘lubra’, ‘abos’
  • Images of people living in what today would be called extreme poverty, ie girls dressed in flour bag.
  • Modern issues of drug use and substance abuse, images of drug paraphernalia, such as ‘bongs’ and petrol sniffing.

Sorrow: ‘Sorrow’ refers to any items including photos, film and sound recordings that reveal the image of someone who has recently died until the kunmanara period is lifted. The local health service, Nganampa Health Council, provides Ara Irititja with updates from clinic and hospital records of recently deceased people. Ara Irititja has strong community links, so when there is any sadness, the project team is informed immediately. These materials remain in ‘sorrow’ until all the family members inform Ara Irititja that approval is given to reopen the image. The deceased person’s name remains unchanged in the written archive, however, the living people will be observing the Kunmanara rule. See the glossary of words for more details.

Glossary of function button words used on the Ara Irititja database software interface.

Brief words were needed to signify the functions or resultant actions of computer interface buttons. The literal translation follows in brackets.

Kulila: play sound (listen!)
Kulintjaku: sounds, audio
Kutjupa-kutjupa: various things, artworks and objects, other things, miscellaneous
Ngurila: find, search
Nyiri: documents (paper)
Pulkara: louder volume
Purkarari!: Be careful! Warning!
Tjaata: start screen (from Anangu pronunciation of ‘start’)
Uritjara: moving images, video

These function button words are a unique attempt to translate computer action into the Pitjantjatjara language. They have developed over time with linguists and Anangu working together. Simple but appropriate directions and commands have been developed to easily guide users into effective operation of Ara Irititja.