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Version 1
Yuwaalaraay only.

Version 2
Yuwaalaraay and English.

About the Bigibila story

As with many other stories, this is set in a time when animals also had human qualities. It is related to the current appearance and behaviour of animals, and there are similar stories in other languages. For instance, there is a very similar Wangaaybuwan story. K Langloh-Parker's Legendary Tales has two similar stories (The Wi-oombeens and Piggi-billa, and Piggi-billa the Porcupine).

You can view a pdf facsimile of the The Wi-oombeens and Piggi-billa; it gives a different version of the story and also shows how Mrs Langloh-Parker wrote some Yuwaalaraay words.

The web site text of Bigibila is a 'tidied up' version, largely drawn from tape 5129A in which Arthur Dodd tells the story to Corinne Williams. It is simpler to read than the original, but has the inevitable distortion that comes from a non-fluent person working on someone else's language.

Often in old stories a number of different languages are used, so the Arthur Dodd comment, 'They used to call him Baayamba', may indicate that Baayamba is a word from another language. In some stories Arthur Dodd uses both Yuwaalaraay and Ngiyambaa [Wayilwan], with different characters using different languages.

Note: 'ngaan.gii' is a new word, not in the GYY dictionary, but used here, and translated as 'mate' (our best guess for now). The word 'ngaama' is a variant of 'nhama'.

The continuous English version of the story is reproduced below.

The Porcupine’s quills

A porcupine was walking along, by himself. Two little weebills [birds] were also walking along. [A long time ago the weebills and porcupines were people.]

One weebill threw a boomerang at an emu there. The emu fell down. It fell with a crash.

The porcupine heard it, and he said: "Aa, what fell there? It fell with a crash."

But those two weebills said, "No, nothing, friend. Nothing mate." [The two of them used call him "baayamba, friend".]

But he called out: "Waa, waa, waa, waa, lovely meat." He was saying this about the emu meat, the porcupine. Then he took the emu. Then he cooked it, cooked it in the ground.

He told the weebills to get some leaves. He kept on telling them: "Go over there for leaves, so that we can cook the emu."

"OK mate." the two of them were saying.

These little ones were running around the bush. "What about these, friend, mate?"

"Go further on." He kept on saying; "Go".

Those two came to another tree. "What about these, mate?"

"No, further, further on."

But he was quickly cooking that emu in a hole. Then the emu was cooked.

Then he took that emu out, and he was eating that emu there. Then the weebills came back there.

"Hey, mate, we've got nothing to eat. Yeah, give me the liver."

But the porcupine said: "Waa, waa, waa, waa; lovely meat." He kept on saying that. He wouldn't give any meat to those two, to the two little fellows.

The two went away from there, the little fellows. The two of them came to an ant nest. [At that time the meat ants were people too.]

The two said to the meat ants: "Old mate won't give us anything. He hasn't given me anything at all to eat. He didn't give me the heart, he didn't give me the liver."

"OK" said the meat ants.

The meat ants all went, with their spears. Yep, they went there, the meat ants. There they speared that fellow. Speared him and speared, with a lot of spears.

And then he said: "This meat is for you two, meat for you, your meat."

He kept on calling out "No, no." [too late] but now lots of spears were sticking into him.

Those quills of his, they were those spears. And now the porcupine is covered with quills, covered with spears.