Kaurna Warra Pintyanthi
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The Kaurna Language Dictionary (forthcoming)

Kaurna Language and New Words

All living languages change. If the Kaurna language continues to be spoken and used then it will also continue to evolve. One contemporary change is the creation of new words by Kaurna people, to enable them to talk about modern ideas, objects and activities that are important in their lives.

Examples of some areas where new words have been created include: household items, electrical goods, sports, fishing, playing cards and school activities; foods that didn’t exist in the 1840s; concepts like reconciliation, culture, Easter, a base-10 number system, months of the year, etc …

Kaurna people have been reluctant to borrow words straight from English or other languages, preferring to create words using the patterns of the Kaurna language. There are many good examples of words for new ideas that Kaurna people were creating at the time of colonisation, for example:

  • tipu-kardla’ – ‘gunpowder’ (from ‘tipu’ – ‘spark’ and ‘kardla’ – fuel);
  • tadli-tadli’ – pot or frying pan (from ‘tadli’ – froth)
  • and ‘tidna-paltha’ – shoe (from ‘tidna’ – foot and ‘paltha’ covering).

Of course all Kaurna people can use their language as they see fit, but vocabulary and resource creation activities associated with Kaurna Warra Pintyanthi (including this dictionary) always aim to use the processes and patterns inherent in the historical Kaurna language spoken at the time of colonisation.