Claire of Anggarrgoon has put up her report on the Second European Workshop on Australian Languages, whose theme was “Narrative and Grammar”; there’s all sorts of good stuff about grammatical devices and discourse categories, and I’d love to know more about “the heterodoxy of Northern Australia,” but I confess what makes me unable to resist blogging it is the map she reproduces of the Eastern Mediterranean labeled in Burarra/Kriol. I think I’ll print it out and use it to perplex people (like myself) who think they can make a pretty good guess about such things; the disconnect between language and geography should make it very difficult for anyone but an Australianist to figure out. And even looking at it, I had to think a moment to realize “Boníchiya” was Phoenicia; I have no idea how Cyprus becomes Jayprach.


  1. Looks like plain -a- is spelling what would be shwa in English.
    -ch- = -s- in Mechadóniya = Macedonia
    -ch- = -th- in Bichíniya = Bithynia
    #j- = #s- in Jíriya = Syria
    -ach# = -us in Bontach = Pontus
    Et voilà: Jayprach = Cyprus.

  2. Well analyzed!

  3. Burarra is one of those languages with a length/voicing distinction in consonants, but it doesn’t occur initially. Initially they just write the “voiced” (= short) one. So “j” and “ch” don’t contrast initially.
    Incidentally, I think the accents are spurious – no one I know would do anything other then initial stress for any of these place names.

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