Pitjantjatjara love poem
Ngayuku wangka wirunya alatjitu
Palu, mapalku wiyaringkuku
Ngayuku wangka malatja "ngayulu nyuntumpa mukuringanyi"
→ Poem the mirror ←
Pitjantjatjara (pithantjatjarra, yankunytjatjara) for a pretty aborigine woman of the center of Australia. This aboriginal language is spoken by about 3,000 people. It is relatively alive and taught in some schools. Like her, aboriginal people had a store of myths stories, and songs handed down by word of mouth from generation to generation. Many of them are about ancestors and past. Many of these are nowadays lost, colonization having killing or integrating them, but in some myths, we can learn stories which are perhaps 10,000 years old, when people travelled from place to place.
In our european languages, many words come from the aboriginal languages; name of plants, animals or things like boomerang which come typically from their country.
The Pitjantjatjara, and its close neighbor Yankunytjatjara, belong to the desert languages found in central and western Australia. This language is considered the least endangered in Australia. It is studied by linguists, has three complete grammars and a real dictionary. There are also many published texts, telling the stories conveyed by the oral tradition. Currently, most of the speakers are in the northwest of South Australia state.
For a long time, the Pitjantjatjara has enjoyed a great prestige because it is a language that missionaries have adopted. The two dialects Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara share 80% of the vocabulary. They have acquired a real function, both, identity and socio-political, and represent this culture imbued with symbolism, religious myths, songs and ceremonies. This culture can be paralleled with many other aboriginal ethnic groups in Australia, by example the way of: - expressing oneself according to the categories of parents, which can go as far as avoidance, - joking relationships, - and some taboos, for example the bereavements during which a specific vocabulary (anitji) is used.
On this page I would like to speak about totemism! It is in the aboriginal societies of Australia that totemism has been the most studied! Totemism is the set of beliefs and cultural practices, involving a relationship between an individual or a group of individuals on the one hand, and an animal, an object, or a set of living beings or phenomena, on the other hand.
Totemism goes hand in hand with a social organization in exogamic groups, members of the same totemic group not being allowed to marry each other. These groups, defined by their totem, maintain particular relations with one, or more particular beings or objects, and these relations may extend as far as the belief in a filiation. Subsequently, these relations lead to prohibitions concerning the totem, not only about food, but also often of contact or sight taboos.
Totemism can be presented in very varied forms: the totem may be an animal (the most frequent case), a plant or even a natural phenomenon (lightning, rain) or physiological (vomiting). In the case of a totem inherited from the mother, the members of the clan are aware of a carnal identity between them and their totem, an identity that leads to various prohibitions. In the case of a patrilineal filiation, belonging to the same totem is function of totemic sites depending of the group territory.