This page contains a variety of suggestions for how to learn vocabulary. Perhaps some of these will work for you.
- wakwak "crow"
- djikirridj-djikirridj "willy wagtail"
- bukbuk "pheasant" (the pheasant coucal makes this sound)
- djarrang "horse": the sound of galloping
These are associations between Kunwok words and English expressions... the more ridiculous, the more memorable!
- bobo means "goodbye": it sounds like "bye bye"
- kaluk nan means "see you later": think of saying goodbye to someone, and waving a garlic naan
- manmorlak means "Kakadu plum": think of holding a Kakadu plum for "more luck"
- birrhme is "to sweep": think of the sound made by a straw broom as "birrh"
- durndeng is "to return": the first thing you do when returning is turn, which is close to "durn"
- kunyarl is "string": think of "yarn"
- nin is "finch": a small word for a small bird, and both the English and Kunwinjku contain "in"
You can even do this for parts of words, e.g.:
- man- is the vegetable prefix: think of a man who likes his vegetables (or who behaves like one)
- yi- is the second person marker, you: think of old English "ye"
Move your body
Learn words while moving your body at the same time. You could as a speaker to give commands and you do the action. This is also known as total physical response.
- yidolkka! stand!
- yiyerrka! sit!
- yibirrhmen! sweep!
- yiborledmen! turn around!
- yilobmen! run!
- yiborrkkemen! dance!
Longer Kunwok words may consist of several parts, like a noun and a verb, e.g. English: haircut, weekend, daydream, fingerprint. Look at the following... see how predictable the meaning is:
- kebkan: kunkeb "nose" + kan "to get" = sniff out (as in hunting with dogs)
- karekarrme: kare "old" + karrme "have" = save for later
- kodjdjobme: kunkodj "head" + djobme "cut off" = sulky, uncommunicative
- kangerayekwon: kunkange "heart, emotion" + rayekwon "make strong" = hearten, encourage
- bidbarrhbarrhmarren: bid "hand" + barrhbarrhma "repeatedly close" + -rren "themselves"
Sometimes, the parts of a word might be a clue:
- karrkkanj: karrk plausible bird sound + kanj "meat" = falcon
Memorising whole sentences is a great way to learn vocabulary, as well as the pronominal prefixes. You can then construct new sentences by substituting words.
- duruk nganbayeng "the dog bit me" (ngan- "it-me")
- duruk ngadukkang "I tied up the dog" (nga- "I-it")
- yuwn yikilekme mako "don't touch the gun" (yi- "you-it")
- yuwn kandjekmiwon "don't laugh at me" (kan- "you-me")
- X karohrok yiman Y = "X is similar to Y"
- yuwn yi-X wardi yarrke yi-Y = "don't X else Y might happen", e.g. yuwn yibidbun wardi yarrke yimankayinj "don't climb it else you might fall down"