Bruce Lee in Noongar.

Barry McGuire writes for the Guardian:

As Noongar kids in the Western Australian wheatbelt town of Kellerberrin, we grew up with blue-eyed comic book superheroes and black-and-white TV shows about cowboys and Indians. […] Then Bruce Lee came along. He was a hero different to all the other heroes. I first saw Bruce Lee, brave, powerful and lightning-fast, when his 1971 debut film The Big Boss came to the Kellerberrin drive-in. […]

A few short decades later, I’m proud to be part of a project in which Bruce Lee fights for justice and speaks to us in our own language here on Noongar Boodjar in south-western Australia. Lee’s 1972 movie Fist of Fury is being redubbed for a new audience as Fist of Fury Noongar Daa, an all-Noongar version to be screened at the 2021 Perth festival. It’s set in 1910 and I speak Noongar instead of Cantonese as a friend of Bruce Lee’s character Chen Zhen who fights to avenge the death of his master and for China’s honour against foreign colonial aggressors. […]

The Perth festival artistic associate, Kylie Bracknell, adapted and directed Hecate, the all-Noongar Macbeth at the 2020 festival as part of the 10-year Noongar Shakespeare Project to promote Noongar language to the world. […] With Fist of Fury Noongar Daa, many of the Noongar artists from Hecate have turned from The Bard to The Bruce for the 2021 Perth festival.

Fist of Fury Noongar Daa was inspired by Navajo Star Wars, a 2013 Navajo-dub of the original Star Wars film. Working with huge cultural figures like Bruce Lee and Shakespeare as well as Star Wars is an effective way to make people sit up and pay attention to what you’re doing. This is a language reclamation project nestled inside an Australian-first dub in a language spoken by only 2% of the entire Noongar population. […] Through Fist of Fury Noongar Daa, our language is now living in a different area of life but it is the same vibration. When I saw the first footage in our language, I giggled so much. It took me back to sitting at the Kellerberrin drive-in, but thinking, “Hey, this time this is my language and I understand it.”

I love projects like this. Thanks, Bathrobe!

Comments

  1. David Eddyshaw says:

    huge cultural figures like Bruce Lee and Shakespeare

    Party game!

    Aristotle and Jerry Lewis!
    Mary Shelley and Cher!
    Bruce Willis and Dostoevsky! (Actually, no: I can see that one …)

  2. I want to see Bruce Willis as Dostoevsky in a movie of The House of the Dead.

  3. Of course, I have no objections to translating Shakespeare or Bruce Lee movies into other languages. However, I do bristle at any version of Macbeth that not just includes but actually focuses on the spurious character of Hecate.

  4. SFReader says:

    https://youtu.be/9jv3hEj_oN0

    “Just you wait” in Even language

  5. There is a great push in trying to use Noongar / Nyungar place names and to revive the language, which i think is fantastic. I’ve even attended a language course in the local TAFE, which was quite interesting.

    There are shows in TV and signage all over the place in Noongar. Some people are calling it the Noongar ascendancy.

    While I am all for efforts of trying to revive native languages, I fear that a lot of Noongar has been lost. There is a bit preserved in a dozen or so (maybe half a dozen) colonial era and early 20 c. sources, but not nearly as much as you’d like if you’re trying to revive a language.

    The revived language grammar looks very similar to English, as is the phonology.

  6. Rodger C says:

    I do bristle at any version of Macbeth that not just includes but actually focuses on the spurious character of Hecate.

    You’ve got to admit she’s good theater. I once saw a TV production of Verdi’s Macbeth in which she was a huge effigy with a triple face.

  7. Jen in Edinburgh says:

    any version of Macbeth that not just includes but actually focuses on the spurious character of Hecate

    Including Shakespeare’s?

    There’s a real story of Mac Bethad mac Findlaích out there, of course, but that’s not what most people would mean by a ‘version of MacBeth’.

  8. Curtin University has a free edX Noongar class online. I only checked out the first or second lesson, so did not get much into the grammar, but I could see how tense/aspect distinctions and the number of cases could easily get “Englishified”. @zyxt do you know of any examples comparing between a more “traditional” Noongar grammar and the revived grammar?

  9. J.W. Brewer says:

    How is “Noongar” pronounced (either by its own speakers or by those who speak only AustEng) and does that shed any light on the phonotactical issue being discussed in the other thread?

  10. David Eddyshaw says:

    Judging by this

    https://d1y4ma8ribhabl.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Noongar-Dictionary-Second-Edition.pdf

    the oo in the standard orthography represents (short) /ʊ/ (which seems to be a common choice in Australian practical orthographies.)

  11. @Jen in Edinburgh: Hecate in the play Macbeth is almost certainly an interpolation by Thomas Middleton.

  12. @DC

    Thanks for the link. I’ll be sure to look into it.

    Traditional grammar for example makes use of cases, the dual number and verb final word order. In the examples of the revived language i’ve been exposed to those features are lacking.

    @JW Brewer

    It’s pronounced with an initial N. I suspect this is due to English influence, because all colonial references have an initial NY, except for one dialect which has an initial Y.

  13. John Cowan says:

    but that’s not what most people would mean by a ‘version of MacBeth’

    Well, “Merugud Uilix maicc Leirtis” isn’t exactly the Odyssey either, though it could perhaps be described as the oldest piece of Odyssey fanfic.

  14. January First-of-May says:

    the oldest piece of Odyssey fanfic

    …I immediately thought of several older texts (in particular, the Aeneid itself, though it turns out there are even older ones), but of course they’re far better described as Iliad fanfic. I was indeed unable to find any specifically Odyssey fanfic older than this (ca. 1200 apparently).

  15. Book 24 of The Odyssey itself is probably a sanctified fanfic.

  16. The discrepancy in spelling is quite odd: “Nyungar (/ˈnjʊŋɡər/; also Noongar) is an Australian Aboriginal language or dialect continuum, still spoken by members of the Noongar community, who live in the southwest corner of Western Australia.” You’d think there would be consistency in official terminology, even if usage varies. Also, what are the /g/ and final /r/ doing in /ˈnjʊŋɡər/? The Noongar article has /ˈnʊŋɑː/ (and says “also spelt Noongah, Nyungar, Nyoongar, Nyoongah, Nyungah, Nyugah, Yunga”).

  17. January First-of-May says:

    …just realized that Noongar (however spelled) is surely the “Nyunga” of “Pama-Nyungan”.

  18. Good catch!

    The name “Pama–Nyungan” is derived from the names of the two most widely separated groups, the Pama languages of the northeast and the Nyungan languages of the southwest. The words pama and nyunga mean “man” in their respective languages.

    That might eventually have occurred to me…

  19. @languagehat

    The closest we have to an official spelling is in the dictionary that David Eddyshaw linked to.

    The pronunciation with a G, shwa and final R is an (?American) English pronunciation. In Western Australian English there is no shwa or final R. Instead it is just [a]

    Regarding the G: according to the Macquarie Dictionary there is only NG, no G.

    {I had to use capital letters in the absence of IPA on my keyboard.}

  20. The pronunciation with a G, shwa and final R is an (?American) English pronunciation. In Western Australian English there is no shwa or final R. Instead it is just [a]

    That’s what I suspected. Someone should change it; it is, after all, an Australian name.

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