[RNLD] Karama - thanks

Margaret Carew margaret.carew at batchelor.edu.au
Tue Nov 20 19:25:38 EST 2018


Thanks to all who responded to my question about the suburb name Karama. I have collated some responses.

I put this request to the list because schools that are associated with the Sanderson Alliance in the northern suburbs of Darwin are seeking ways to meaningfully celebrate linguistic and cultural diversity, especially as part of the 2019 UNESCO Year of Indigenous Languages. Honouring the historic naming of several suburbs after language and tribal groups is one way that schools can connect with Indigenous histories and diasporas that are part of Darwin’s social fabric. Wulagi Primary has succeeded in forming a sister school relationship with Wurlaki and Djinang people and the school/community network are looking to how to celebrate the other connections indexed by suburb names such as Malak, Nakara, Moil, Jingili, Anula, Wagiman etc.

I heard from a few people about Karrama being a name for Murrinhpatha used by neighboring groups both to the south and north (by Jaminjung and Mirriwoong and other groups in VRD and Kununurra, thanks Felicity Meakins and Linda Barwick).

Frances Kofod said,

I think this is based on the Miriwoong, Gajirrabeng and possibly Jaminjung name for the Murrinhpatha. Garamang or sometimes Garramawoong. It appeared in some old maps north of the Victoria River. The final -ng or -woong are added by speakers when using - It is like asking the French “Who lives on the other side of the English Channel?” Les anglais.

John Mansfield mentioned that the name "Garama" seems to have had quite some currency among outsiders referring to the Murrinhpatha in the mid-20th century - e.g. it is used by both Capell and Hale in their fieldnotes.

Joe Blythe pointed out that Ian Green (2003) demonstrated Murrinhpatha and Ngan’gi tyemirri are closely related as the two members of the Southern Daly family and that Earlier Tryon classified Murrinhpatha and Garama as the two sole members of the Garramic language family, presumably by comparing some wordlists.

A couple of others have pointed to further west in WA, such as Piers Kelly who checked Austlang,

A search of Karama brings up a few likely suspects including Kurruma in WA: https://collection.aiatsis.gov.au/austlang/language/w36
and Jadira which is possibly the same language: https://collection.aiatsis.gov.au/austlang/language/w49

>From David Osgarby,

Brown (1912, 144) records "Karama" as a western group of the Yindjibarndi people: "The more easterly part of the Injibandi tribe call themselves Kârama or Korama and are so spoken of by the Binigura who adjoin them." Tindale (1940, 204) later references Brown on this: "Loc.: Valley of Fortescue River east of Millstream. This is also regarded as a westerly (not easterly) subtribe of the Indjibandi."

Brown, A. R. 1912. ‘The Distribution of Native Tribes in Part of Western Australia’. Man 12: 143–46. https://doi.org/10.2307/2788273.
Tindale, Norman B. 1940. ‘Results of the Harvard-Adelaide Universities Anthropological Expedition, 1938-1939: Distribution of Australian Aboriginal Tribes: A Field Survey’. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 64 (1): 231. https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/129844#page/235/mode/1up.

So there are two main possibilities. The name Karama was put forward as a Darwin suburb name by Douglas Lockwood, the newspaper man based for decades in Darwin. I think he would have been more likely to have contributed a group name from closer to Darwin.

John Mansfield asked - Why not Garama/Garrama rather than Karama?

When you look to other historical naming of place names in the NT that draws from Indigenous languages it is more common that not that names have been anglicised to conform to English spelling norms, and that the original source is not a scholarly one (such as linguists field notes or published papers). One classic example of this is Tmaramara Drive which is derived from apmere mwerre ‘good place’. The artist Rex Battarbee had a gallery in Alice Springs which he called Tmaramara, and the street was named in honour of it.

It is only since dictionaries have been published and more consultative processes been put in place that more standard spellings have been used (eg. Mparntwe Drive, Irlpme Court, Antulye Court gazetted in 2005, post Alice Springs land claim and put forward by the native title holding group as part of a housing development on their land – these are the names of the 3 descent groups awarded title under this claim).

Cheers, Margaret

Dr Margaret Carew
Linguist, CALL
Division of Higher Education and Research
Batchelor Institute – Desert People’s Centre campus
tel: 08 8951 8344
email: margaret.carew at batchelor.edu.au<https://mail.batchelor.edu.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=70aec586ee4c4fbba6095932db9fd058&URL=mailto%3afirstname.lastname%40batchelor.edu.au> | www.batchelor.edu.au<https://mail.batchelor.edu.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=70aec586ee4c4fbba6095932db9fd058&URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.batchelor.edu.au%2f>
Both-Ways Tertiary Education and Research
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