Sign Language 1

 

Yidumduma and nephew Jonas Doctor share traditional Wardaman sign language and modern usage from the streets of Katherine. Sign language was handed down from the Dreamtime Buwarraja, to communicate across distances and languages, in ceremony, mourning, hunting and for the deaf. Featuring signs for: initiated men, women, fighting, water, big rain, swimming, wife, tracking, hungry, listen, eat......

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Transcript

First, this way the sound go...
That mean, you whistle first
and another bloke over that side he go...like this, 'What's that?'...

'What's that?'...flick your hand like this...

you go like this...that's, 'The tribal mark people, coming'...'All the male coming'...
and that bloke will peep over, look, and he'll shake his head.
He saw them... 'Yes, I saw them'...
He go...again, other look you... He go like that again...               
He say, that's 'All the women coming'...
He'll go like that again..'This way, see'...'They go that way'...
and he go look...he goes back and tells them others.
Then, he just go...and he look...he go like this, 'To here'...and he just come
without talking, sit beside you and you just start talking.
...you whistle again...like this...and the bloke will say like this...and you say...'Little kid',
point it out where they are...like this...that's 'Belting one another.'
Like that....'The family have to go split them up'...'Fighting over there, all the kid.'
They go like this... First he say like this, 'The little kid'...they go like this...and you point it out...
'They fighting one another'...the mother will race up,
grab them by the ears and bring them back.
Then, you'd be sitting over there in the dry land
and...hurting in the leg, you can't move.
You go...the bloke will look at you, go like that again...
That mean you want water... You say, 'Water'...like this for drink...
and like this again...you put two hand up, 'Big rain coming'...
You go like this...that mean 'You go into a house or cave or something...you go in.'
That's...sign language and what Jonas learned, little bit from different people...in town.
Everyone still use it today.

...when you are on the street...when you got a best mate on the other side of the road...
if your looking...did he see your girlfriend in the street... You whistle...
That mean like...'Did you see my girlfriend anywhere on the street?'
...and he'll turn and look...and he'll point...'(S)he's walking around with all the girls'...
...if you want your friends to go swimming with you and you say...
...swimming, like...'Me, you, this mob here, let's go and dive in the water.'
...another...to walk around, you say...like...'Us mob here...we go walkabout anywhere'.
Just go walk around...on the street...
When he's got his two hand out...he's saying, 'Where?'...
Then if he say to him, 'Nothing', he go like this...'Nothing'...
What about, yes and no?...'Yes', he nod his head...and 'No...Nothing...Yes', head down.
...that's the 'Wife', they go like this...
that one will answer you and when you go like that,
your turn to say like that....you say first...he go like that, 'What?'...
'Where is my wife?'...he'll point it out...from a distance...use your hand...
...sometime he'll say...that's him, 'You gotta follow his track.'
You can recognize your missus track or your friend or whatever,
you know his feet...he just go like this and you look around for footprints where he's going...
That's where a lot of them learn to be a tracker...
What about 'Hungry'...
You go like this, you flip your hand... 'I'm hungry'
You want to 'Listen' somebody... you gotta listen, because he's little bit deaf.
Somebody is singing out to you for feed or anything,
... He's singing out, 'Come here, you want feed, inside here.'  
If that's your girlfriend on the other side, you whistle...
'Come here and drive around.'
 

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