Kriol

Well, I’ve been on sort of a Kriol kick this last week, which started after I re-found Ali Mill’s fantastic Kriol version of Waltzing Matilda online. I heard it first months ago, in the lead up to the Bannockburn anniversary (yes, the two events are connected, wait for it!). A large tapestry was made to celebrate the Bannockburn anniversary with squares sent in from all over the Scottish diaspora world, including of course Australia. Now, Banjo Patterson was, unbeknownst to me, the child of a Scottish immigrant, and of course his most famous song is Waltzing Matilda (the tune of which, unebelievably, is a traditional pipe march, the Craigielea). Since songs were being put on CDs to correspond with each square, Ali Mill’s Kriol Waltjim Bat Matilda was chosen.

And here it is:

Here are the words, for those who want to follow along (and see the similarities/differences with English):

Wun balla carrdia bin cum up langa billabong
Im bin chid on a groun langa coolabah tree
Im bin chingim bat corobree watchim bat him billy boil
Yu balla cum an waltjim bat matilda langa mi

Waltjim bat matilda, waltjim bat matilda
Yu balla cum an waltjim bat matilda langa mi
Im bin chingim bat corobree watchim bat him billy boil
Yu balla cum an waltjim bat matilda langa mi

Bum bai datum maaa bin cum up langa billabong
Carrdia bin gatchim wolly maaa ngee ngee
Im bin put im dtun maaa inchide langa ducker bag
Yu balla cum an waltjim bat matilda langa mi

Waltjim bat matilda, waltjim bat matilda
Yu balla cum an waltjim bat matilda langa mi
Im bin put im dtun maaa inchide langa ducker bag
Yu balla cum an waltjim bat matilda langa mi

Bum bai datum marrdagee bin cum up langa dimina
Pleetjaman bin cum up wun, too, tree
Wair datum maaa yu bin putim langa ducker bag
Yu balla cum an waltjim bat matilda langa mi

Waltjim bat matilda, waltjim bat matilda
Yu balla cum an waltjim bat matilda langa mi
Wair datum maaa yu bin putim langa ducker bag
Yu balla cum an waltjim bat matilda langa mi

Bum bai datum carrdia bin chump in langa billabong
Yu gan gatchim mi libe wun ngee ngee
An im pirit jere chinging out inchide langa billabong
Yu balla cum an waltjim bat matilda langa mi

Waltjim bat matilda, waltjim bat matilda
Yu balla cum an waltjim bat matilda langa mi
An im pirit jere chingin out inchide langa billabong
Yu balla cum an waltjim bat matilda langa mi

Waltjim bat matilda, waltjim bat matilda
Yu balla cum an waltjim bat matilda langa mi
An im koodook jere chinging out inchide langa billabong
Yu balla cum an waltjim bat matilda langa mi

Dibmorr diborr, dibmorr diborr, dibmorr diborr, whee!

Kriol is an English-based creole language spoken mostly in the Northern Territory. It is also the only indigenous Australian language with a complete Bible – the translation took about 30 years and was completed in 2007. Pitjantjatjara is following close behind, with all of the New Testament and about 15% of the Old Testament).

Kriol-speakers today face some problems because many people don’t recognise Kriol as a separate language, but just “bad English”, and so Kriol-speaking children often don’t get either ESL support or mother tongue provision at school. Have a look at Waltjim Bat Matilda and the Kriol Bible and tell me that’s not a separate language.

You can have a look at the complete Kriol Bible online here.

I’m going to leave you with this final thought from Psalm 23:1:

Yawei, yu jis laik det brabli gudwan stakmen.
Yu oldai maindimbat mi, en ai garram ebrijing brom yu.
Ai kaan wandim mowa.

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