Sunday, March 11, 2007

Post the Second (with many firsts)

This is what I look like after two weeks in Katherine (note: loss of neck, and other extremities, in favour of god-like rays of linguistic brilliance!):

So I’ve come to the end of my second week in Katherine (at the time of writing, it’s Friday night, though I’ll probably compose this over the weekend, hopefully getting it up on Monday). Since last you eyeballed my literary musings, I have had several firsts.

First first: I travelled out to Barunga community to help a colleague with some translation. Barunga is about 1hr out of Katherine, travelling at about 110-130kmph most of the way.

Second first: going to Barunga meant driving a Toyota troop carrier – so I’ve been driving one of those big beasties that makes Toorak-trucks look Micro-Machines™.

Third first: I participated in a group meditation session with a few of the new friends I have made up here. I’m not sure how enlightening it was, but it was great to sit and chat among new friends, find out about the people up here and what they’re all doing and how they found themselves here.

Fourth first: I think I’ll stop at four, though I’m sure there are more. My fourth first is the staff meeting I attended today. I got a little excited when I wrote “staff meeting” in my calendar earlier in the week. It ended up being a pretty casual affair with discussion of what everyone at the centre has been doing.

Fifth first: I know I said I’d stop at four, but then I remembered that I had a “linguists’ meeting” today as well as the staff meeting. It was great being in a room full of linguists, but I couldn’t contribute all that much to the conversation, as it revolved mainly around the diphthongs of the languages in the region, with which I am too unfamiliar to express an opinion yet.

I have also been doing a lot of reading this week: Peter Carey’s Theft (highly entertaining, unusual though captivating use of language, written from the perspectives of an alcoholic has-been painter and his autistic yet insightful brother), Norah Vincent’s Self Made Man (true story – woman went undercover as a man in different scenarios over about a year), and the Aboriginal language reader given to me by a uni lecturer before I left (oh gosh! You know how I get off on linguistics? Well, this IS my bag baby!).

Most intriguing thing learned this week: bound pronouns in Aboriginal languages are remnants of free pronouns in a Nominative-Accusative language system. *wait for it….wait for it…* BUT – most Aboriginal languages now have free pronouns with an Ergative-Absolutive system; the modern Erg-Abs free pronouns occur in conjunction with the bound pronouns of the past Nom-Acc system! That’s right boys and girls, that’s what Hooch has been getting off on this week!

On a less cheery note, the shine of ‘all things new’ is starting to wear off. I’m starting to crave familiarity, such as cats, pianos, Melbourne and of course you wonderful people, the readers of this blog: my friends and relations.

Sorry for not having emailed or replied emails. The internet is really slow up here and I only have access during work hours. Most of the time my emails fail to send or gmail/hotmail web pages don’t even open.

It’s raining steadily at the moment. I’m about to get picked up to go to a party. The rooster has been giving me the evil eye, and spurred me in the leg the other day (6th first – never been spurred by a rooster before). Last night there were four frogs in the toilet – 2 in the bowl (looking up at me with trepidation through the water), and 2 in the ridges of the corrugated tin wall behind the cistern (sooo cute, they only had their heads sticking out, and looked like they were vertically tucked up in bed).

Anyway, the CD has stopped: a sure sign that I’m due to hop off this thing before I get square eyes.

PS. I have done two more dreadlocks.


Daniel said...

God-like? Looks more like the opening credits of Dr Who to me: Do you have hopes of becoming the Eleventh Doctor?

For things familiar I hope the party you went to helped (in that there are things all parties have in common). Another thing is have you been to that choral group yet? That may sooth the pangs of homesickness.

All that linguistics stuff is - like - Greek to me. I can however say that the abbreviation 'km' is further abbreviated to 'k' within the context of the abbreviation 'kph' rather than 'kmph' (or at any rate 'kph' is a very common convention that saves on typing one extra letter).

But the impression that you were driving a big thing fast has been successfully conveyed. Was it fun?

pa said...

Dear Hooch
Enjoyed reading about your firsts. The troop carrier would have felt a bit different from the Renault.Whats next a road train?Ergative-Absolute systems is over my head. I will never make a linguist. You seem to have a thing with animals what with frogs in the toilet and now being spurred by the rooster. Please keep clear of moniter lizards (piranti). They have big claws. Your homesickness will pass once you are very busy. Meditation might help.
Wendy and family took us to Williamstown on Saturday. A lovely day. Nana's recliner chair was out of action over the weekend but has been replaced today. It was a bit awkward without it. We are well and hope that you are too. Keep blogging. Love from Nana and Pa

ilkfin said...

Hi Pie! I hope this sends and that you have a fun weekend and touch a piano, a puppy and a pal. Human contact, music and a warm puppy take a lot of beating!


Beck said...

A teacher asked me about Aboriginals today and I couldn't really give the in depth answer I think she was looking for. So at the moment I am looking for some decent info to give her. Whilst reading I came across some info on the didgeridoo. Apparently the Jawoyn tribe of Katherine call it 'artawirr' meaning hollow log.

ilkfin said...

Hi Hooch, hope you are having a great time in Katherine. At the Collyer mansion having dinner. I miss your laugh. I had my op last week but I feel great now. Havn't met a guy yet but I live in hope but nobody's desperate. Promise has just eaten Pokey's dinner. John has come in and is trying to upset me and put me off talking to you so I told him to "piss off". Jane sent me a text today. She is such a bitch. She still thinks I am in England so I will get Robert to text her and tell her to pull her finger out and start paying the money back she owes me.

Lots of love and kisses Sheila.

ps I think the frogs should be named after me, Sheila 1, Sheila 2, etc...........

Sarah said...

Hey "Use-Your-Knee" thanks for the excellent blog! ^_^
I agree that the best thing to do for homesickness is to keep busy - which it seems like you are doing - amazing! I got SO lost reading all that discussion of bound and free pronouns and ergativity - all of that stuff has just totally slipped out of my brain!
Anyway, the reason I looked up your blog was that there were a couple of things I wanted to ask you -
1. Did you receive the letter and little piratey present I sent you?
2. Have you read "Tennyson's Gift" (Lynne Truss) or "The Looking Glass Wars" (Frank Beddord)? I assumed you would have, as they involve Alice in Wonderland. Tennyson's Gift was great, but I have not started The Looking Glass Wars yet, and wondered what it was like. On the other hand, if you haven't read it yet, let me know, and I would be happy to send you a copy! :)
Anyway, take care, and if there is a fifth toilet frog, I would like it to be named 'Lord Froggington' please.
Btw. I think you look like Holly in the picture.

Hooch said...

Sarah - Holly from RD? No haven't read either of those books, but they both sound cool. I did get the pirate pressie, thanks heaps, it was wonderful, and so was the letter. :) Hope your PhD is going well.

Sheila - pls give the poodles a pat from me, good to see you're checking the blog (even if it's cos mum forced you to!)

Mum - please give everyone a pat from me, including Ned, Imo and John when you see them.

Beck - I didn't know that, but the Jawoyn people are up around here. I think it's interesting that 'Jawoyn' sounds so similiar to 'Darwin'.

Pa - Thank for the update. It's really cool hearing about you guys and what's going on in Nthern Melb.

Daniel - again, v. cool to have you reading/commenting. I miss choir, the one up here isn't running yet - but will surely post about it when it happens.

PS. This is my no means a 'comcluding remark' even thought I have posted another comment. Feel free to pose comments where ever.


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