Rainbow Bee-eaters. Photo: Mark Stoop/Unsplash.

CHL Tales: Korlomomo and Berrerdberrerd

27th May 2020

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Maggie Tukumba tells the story of Korlomomo and Berrerdberrerd in Dalabon, introduced by Nick Evans.

Korlomomo and Berrerdberrerd


nnunh –
nunh ru:l kahnunh
dubmi korlomomo ngurra-marnu-wey,
ngurraye-marnû-wey kanunh rul-no kaye-yungi korlomomo
nunh manjh ngong
njerrh-no ngurrah-nguy
nunh mak –
nunh mak ngurra-kinji
kurlba-no-dorrungh ngurrah-nguy njerrh-no ngurrah-dja-nguy

bah -- walu-no ngorr kah-marnû-yunj kanunh
kanh lad bukah-yeme-y

dubmi mah ngarrah-dja-yongi
nunh –
nunda kah-yin ngarra-dulhmun
nunh mak ngarra-dulhmini nunh ngarrah-njimini
wah-kah ngarrah-yongi yirrhwalûng
ka-rreh-barrhbuyi munu ngarrah- –
ngarrah- –
ngarrah-boni berrh-kah manjh, kung werrh ngurrah-yawey ngurrah-nguy mey berrh-kah
ngarrah-yawoyh-dudjmi ngarrah-daddangi
yirrhwalûng wah-kah
kanihdja wadda ngurrah-buy

bah rul kanh bûkah-marnû-yunj kanh berrerdberrerd-yih
kanh berrerdberrerd-yi rul ngorr kah-marnû-yunj
lad bûkah-yemey
lad kanh ka-yidjnjaninj kanh korlomomo-yih
ngorr kah-balan-darahminj
bah berrerdberrerd kah-dja-bo:ng bûkah-dja -- bûkah-dja-m –

men-werreminj bûkah-dja-marnû-kedjakmi:nj dord bûkah-marnû-naninj bûkah-dolku-boyoboyohminj ka-njengu-yo dord bûkah-marnû-naninj, kenbo kah-dja-lng- –
kah-nang kah-wulubminj kahlng-njengu-donj

kanunh lad
yerrerd! bûkah-warnu-mey
berrerdberrerdberrerdberrerdberrerd: bûkah-marnû-yininj bûkah-marnû-ye-dolkang nahda –
bilinjdjibbilinjdji karrh
kah-lng-mayahminj ka-warrabbaminj kah-kabarrHminj kah-kabarrHminj kahkeno korrehkun
bûkahlng-marnû-yekomhminj kah-yininj

yelûng bonj kanunh rul kanh ngurrahlng-marnu-wan kanh berrerdberrerd
manjh nunh kanh kanj-no ngurrah-kinj kunj kerninjh-no nunh kanh kardu bernuk nunh –
bulikki nunh kanj-no kurlba nunh kanh kahlng-dombun kanh mimal-yih
mimal-yih kanh ngurrah-kinj nunh kanh kurlba-burnda-kah
kanunh ngurrahlng-ngun
kanh ngurrah-ngun bonj
dubmi njerrh-no ngurrah-ngunguy


Crocodile and Rainbow Bee Eater


That, that custom [of cooking meat with fire]
We would have been following the crocodile's way now
It's that way which we would be following, which the crocodile laid down
Like any sort of meat
We would have eaten it raw
Or fish, or whatever
We wouldn't, we wouldn't have cooked it
But would have eaten it dripping with blood, we would still just be eating [meat] raw

But [the Rainbow Bee Eater] made that [new] way for us
Rainbow Bee Eater
He snatched away the firestick from him [the Crocodile]

And we would still be living in the water
That—like now [in this season] we’re cold
But we wouldn’t be cold [if not for the Rainbow Bee Eater]
And we’d go in and live under the water
And when the new day would break we would just, we
We would just go out of the water to look for animals, or honey, or
We would eat food in a dry place, out of the water
And then go back under the water
Under the water
We would have stayed there
Lived there

But he put that custom of his there [of the crocodile’s] when Rainbow Bee Eater
Snatched it from him
That Rainbow Bee Eater established that custom [of cooking food] for us
He snatched the firestick from him,
The firestick that the crocodile was holding onto
Crocodile nearly managed to keep it from us
But rainbow bird just dived down and he, he just
Won him over

He just kept coming to [Crocodile] over and over
He groomed him for lice
He rubbed his back
He groomed him for lice while he was asleep, then he,
He saw that now [Crocodile] was fast asleep under the water…

The firestick
He snatched it off him
And called out Berrerdberrerdberrerdberrerd to [Crocodile] as he flew
Way up into the sky, taking it up away from him
Then [Crocodile] couldn’t work out what had happened
He staggered around groping about with his hands [for the firestick] but nothing
[Rainbow Bee Eater] had already taken it away from him

He made it so we would follow [Crocodile’s] custom [by cooking on fires]
Rainbow Bee Eater did
We cook the meat of animals, kangaroos, of whatchacallem
Maybe of bush turkeys, or of bullocks
The fire dries the blood out of their meat
We use fire to cook the meat and dry the blood out
And we eat it like that
That’s how we eat it, right
[Otherwise] we would keep eating [food] raw even today
That’s all


Storytelling is just one way by which we at CHL connect with the cultures, histories and languages in the world around us. If you wish to support this research, you can now donate to the School of Culture, History & Language fund.

Updated:  7 July 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, Culture, History & Language/Page Contact:  CHL webmaster