4.2 THE ‘WORD’ FIELDS
Fig. 4.21 Australian, Respelt and ‘No hyphens’, with transcription and a ‘prefix’ field
The ‘Australian’ field presents the original language record. It is always shown in Times Roman typeface, and often in boldface.
RESPELT (apricot) — partly obscured
Fig. 4.22 Clicking on the obscured ReS field reveals its content
The respelt field (or ‘ReS‘) began as a respelling in a consistent style following conventions used by linguists, while retaining word division using hyphens, and including the use of double letters, vowels or consonants, if they occurred in the original and appeared useful.
Fig 4.23 In this illustration, ‘nanga-ba-mi’ (sleep-will-thou)is presented with hyphenation
Fig. 4.24 Here the respelt column presents ‘badabami’ (eat-will-thou) in NoH format
A later use of the respelt field has been to record the complete version of an entry, corresponding to the split-into-parts version in the adjacent NoH and analysis fields.
The above illustrations show these two ways the Respelt column may be used. The first shows it with hyphenation (nanga-ba-mi). The second shows it in NoH format (badabami); this presentation is necessary because otherwise there would be no means to search the database for ‘badabami’, the NoH record having been separated into its constituent parts using the analysis columns. This pair of examples shows the future tense marker ‘ba’ and the nominative pronoun ‘mi’ (thou, or you-singular), which is sometimes indicated as 2sgNOM.
The ‘nangabami’ entry used was in transition. It was about to be converted to the same analysed presentation as the ‘badabami’ example above it.
NO HYPHENS (tawny)
The ‘No hyphens’ field (or ‘NoH’), which aims at the greatest simplification, has stripped the Respelt field to its essentials by omitting hyphens and letter doubling.
Both ReS and NoH followed some basic principles. These included:
—the use of only three vowels, /a/, /i/ and /u/; these corresponded to their sounds in Australian-English ‘path’, ‘suite’ and ‘put’. ‘e’ and ‘o’ are never used in the respellings in these databases;
—recognition that in Australian Indigenous there are three consonantal pairs languages lacking the voiced and unvoiced contrast of English and many European languages, these being ‘c’ and ‘g’, ‘t’ and ‘d’, and ‘p’ and ‘b’. In the Bayala databases the choice was made to represent these always with /g/, /d/ and /b/, omitting ‘c’ or ‘k’’, ‘t’ and ‘p’;
—replacement of ‘j’ and the sound associated with with with ‘dy’;
—the avoiding of placing two vowels together, so that, for example, the spelling of the sound associated with the English ‘eye’ and first-person subject pronoun ‘I’ with the spelling /ayi/.
The recording of Australian indigenous languages was not assisted by the particular language in which it was done, English, with its less-than-uniform spelling characteristics. Had the language been one such as Italian where every letter or combination may be interpreted in only one way, there would have been far fewer difficulties now in understanding the sounds the original recorders attempted to portray. The examples given above showing the many versions of the Sydney language word for ‘good’ used by English-speaking recorders illustrate this variability. It is likely that a diverse group of Italian-speaking recorders might have rendered the word with just the one version: ‘bugiari’, to be transcribed in these databases as /budyari/.