Yolŋu Matha is a language spoken by the Indigenous Australians of Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory. To the majority of the people in the communities, English is a second language. There’s a twelve year gap in life expectancy between Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people, which is pretty drastic. It’s made worse because there’s a massive communication gap between the doctors and patients.
Just last week, ARDS released a new dictionary that translates medical phrases into Yolŋu Matha. Here’s some examples:
DNA – djinaga’puy wäyuk or djinawa’wuy wäyuk
English: DNA is found inside every cell of our body. It acts like a law that is not easily changed. It controls what kind of cell each cell grows into e.g. a skin cell, or liver cell or brain cell. It also controls what work each cell does.
Yolŋu Matha: Dhuwaliyi ŋunhi djinawa’wuy wäyuk, ŋunhiny ŋayi ŋuli ga ŋorra ŋunhan bili yan ṉapuŋgan ŋunhiliyin ŋunhi nhänhamiriw waka’ rumbalwu yäku cell-ŋura dhuwal rumbalŋura limurruŋgal. Ga rommirr ŋayi dhuwaliyi djinawa’wuynydja wäyuk, ŋunhi ŋanya dhu bäyŋun nhakun yuwalktja rrorru’. Ga buŋgawayirrnydja ŋayi ŋuli ga ŋunhi bukmakkun dhiyak cell-wuny mala nhaltjan ŋayi dhu walalany dhanuŋdhun rommirriyam balanya nhakun: ŋanakpuy dhuwal rumbalpuy cell-nha ga bamburuŋburuŋbuynha cell-nha ga biḏila’puynha cell-nha. Ga ŋunhi ŋayi ŋuli goŋ-dhawar’yundja bala ŋayi ŋuli djämamirriyaman ŋunhi cell-nhany mala
hormone – dhäwu-gänhamirr wiyika’
English: Hormones are substances that are produced in our body and carried by our blood. Each hormone has its own message to give to our body.
Yolŋu Matha: “Hormone”-dja dhuwal wiyika’ mala ŋunhi ŋuli ga ŋamaŋamayunmirr dhiyal rumbalŋur limurruŋgal, ga gämany walalany ŋuli ga ŋunhi maŋguy’nha. Ga bukmakthu “hormone”-dhu ga gäna-gana ŋayatham dhäwu mala ŋunhi walal ŋuli ga gurrupan dhipal bukmaklil rumballil limurruŋgal.
How awesome is that?