More than just a jumbuck in a tucker sack
July 24, 2016 11:47 AM   Subscribe

Waltzing Matilda is the bush ballad that introduced elements of Australian slang to generations of Americans. Instantly recognizable but less familiar is Waltjim Bat Matilda a version by Darwin-based Indigenous singer Ali Mills. She’s singing in Kriol, which is spoken by more people than any other language exclusive to Australia and is based on the highly endangered Gurindji. Waltjim Bad Matilda is also the name of Mills’ first solo album after performing many years with the Mills Sisters.
posted by layceepee (9 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
This fun to listen to on a Sunday afternoon.

Have some cocanuts.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:36 PM on July 24, 2016

Kriol? I had NO IDEA this was a thing in Australia. I should have thought of it but OMG. SO COOL.

I will not live long enough to learn all the languages I want to learn, including this one.
posted by tel3path at 3:09 PM on July 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

oh this is so good
posted by PinkMoose at 5:44 PM on July 24, 2016

This is great, thank you for posting it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:04 PM on July 24, 2016

Oh, I really like this. I grew up in rural Australia surrounded by a lot of really negative attitudes towards indigenous folks, and it always makes me sad the way I ended holding onto so many awful feelings attached merely to the sound of indigenous voices. Seeing the joy in their performances and hearing this wonderful version of a song I've been listening to all my life is such a great antidote to that. I think I'll be listening to a lot more of her work. Thanks for sharing this.
posted by the existence of stars below the horizon at 7:07 PM on July 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh this is lovely.

Confess I was exposed to this song by the wonderful Pogues cover of Eric Bogle's "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" [YT] and didn't dig up the Banjo Paterson song until hearing Tom Waits do "Tom Traubert's Blues" and deciding to look up the precedent for the tune.

Talk about a global folk song.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:48 PM on July 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is awesome!

I don't want to be "well, actually", but as a linguist who works in Australia (and sometimes on Australian languages) I just want to correct a couple of things.

Kriol itself is a language widely spoken throughout Australia (by about 30,000 people), and is not based on Gurindji. It is an English-based creole, with grammatical features from a wide variety of Australian Aboriginal (and probably also Pacific) languages.

Gurindji is a traditional language - one of more than 300 in Australia. Gurindji Kriol is a special variety of Kriol that is a very cool mixture of Gurindji and Kriol and is spoken by a much smaller community of 1000 or so people. (It's a very famous language in linguistics because it's one of a few mixed languages around the world, like Michif, where the nouns come from one language and the verbs from another).

I don't know Kriol well enough to be able to tell whether Ali Mills is singing here in Kriol or Gurindji Kriol. The link is very unclear about this. The sentence "Another song, the Kriol version of Waltzing Matilda which she learned from her great uncle Valentine McGinness and sings in her Gurindji/Kungarakan language has also received many accolades" is very confusing because Gurindji and Kungarakan are two different languages. So either she is singing in Gurindji, or Kungarakan, or Kriol, or Gurindji Kriol. Listening to the song, I'm pretty sure it's one of the two latter options.

Sorry I couldn't get to posting this back when the thread was first active. I was travelling without internet access. But since it's been sidebarred, I thought it was still worth adding this correction.
posted by lollusc at 7:44 PM on July 27, 2016 [7 favorites]

Thanks for that, lollusc.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:19 AM on July 28, 2016

THREE HUNDRED traditional languages in Australia? MIND BLOWN.

Though I guess it shouldn't be, since you do have an entire continent's worth of space there.
posted by tel3path at 5:06 PM on July 28, 2016

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