Minyadhi bundaanhi guda maal dhuludhi?
Why did koala 1 fall out of the tree?
It was dead.
Minyadhi bundaanhi guda bulaarr dhuludhi?
Why did koala 2 fall out of the tree?
Ngaragaydha nhama garran-garran.
Because it was stuck to the other one.
Minyadhi bundaanhi guda gulibaa dhuludhi?
Why did koala 3 fall out of the tree?
Minyadhi ganunga mil waandu dhay? Dhinggaa gaba!
Why did the crow eat their eyes? Good meat!
The story is a well-known joke (or anti-joke according to reddit) in Australian primary schools. We’ve translated it into Gamilaraay for fun. The last line, however, is drawn from a recent composition we heard in class, in which a young girl sings to consistently cheerful music about seeing a kangaroo; seeing a snake; seeing the snake biting the kangaroo, and the kangaroo hopping around; seeing the kangaroo dying; and then seeing a crow eating it, with the singer exclaiming “good meat!”
Gamilaraay does not have a continuous history. Like many Australian languages, it died out under pressure from English. Yet enthusiastic heirs to the culture, along with linguists like our teacher John Giacon (winner of the first Patji-Dawes award for language teaching), have worked on reclaiming their language from the past. All of us in the class are doing projects in the form of stories, translations or educational videos, adding to the stock of materials in or about the language. Our koala joke is another small contribution.
By Mark Ellison and Nina Gruenewald.