Facebook kore Kunwinjku dja Gundjeihmi kun-wok!

Facebook kore Kunwinjku dja Gundjeihmi kunwok!

[= Kunwinjku]

After reading about the facebook interface in minority Australian languages on that mununga linguist we took up the challenge at the Bininj Gunwok Language Project to create versions for Kunwinjku and Gundjeihmi. Thanks to the skill and dedication of Kevin Scannell and our translators Violet Lawson- (Gundjeihmi) and Andrew Manakgu and Dean Yibarbuk- (Kunwinjku), the scripts are now available:

Update 12 August 2012:

Note there has been an update to these scripts made on 13 August (again thanks to Kevin Scannell's hard work) as Google has changed the way they handle installation of extentions in Chrome (installation from outside of the Chrome webstore is no longer allowed). If you used scripts that appeared in this post before 13 August 2012, you will have to replace them with these scripts which are now official Chrome webstore compliant scripts:

For Kunwinjku:


For Gundjeihmi:

Basically the process for installing these scripts is the same as that described on that mununga linguist but Kevin also adds the following:

I'm strongly recommending to everyone that they use these scripts with Google Chrome - they will run much faster and with fewer errors, and they don't require any special addons to install - just click one of the links above in Chrome, accept the install, and then visit Facebook. Things should start to appear in the language, no need to restart. If things revert to English, reloading the page can help.

If you are thinking of doing this for another minority language here is how we dealt with some of the translation issues for a north Australian polysynthetic language. This is only a selection so if you want to ask about a term not listed here, leave a comment below and we'll reply. Also, Kevin has a wiki about how other languages have dealt with these translations and so we'll eventually add how Kunwinjku and Gundjeihmi have dealt with the translation there, or you can read the same information here (actually only Gundjeihmi is described below).

The following relates to the Gundjeihmi version and therefore the Gundjeihmi orthography is used.

The term 'friend' doesn't really have an analogue in Indigenous cultures where classificatory kinship means everyone in your social universe is a relative. So we opted for 'people we know'. But shift that along to 'mutual friend' and there are some other translation complications.

"1 mutual friend"

This created some interesting discussion about subject and object number. In Bininj Gunwok, these prefixes cover a large range of number possibilities in portmanteau forms. To say that we two (exclusive) both know another (i.e. 1) person would be 1 ngani-djarrk-burrbun:


'1st person  dual exclSUBJ>3rd person sing. OBJ.-both/together-know[non-past]'

But once the number of mutually known friends is >1, the prefixes must indicate this change in number. This is not possible in the Facebook translation which must remain constant except for the proceeding numeral (there might be a technical fix, but it probably doesn't really matter at this stage). For example to say 'we 2 both (i.e. mutually) know 3 other people' in Gundjeihmi you would say ngarrban-djarrkburrbun, where ngarrban- is the prefix that marks 'we two acting on them (3 or more)'. Here the 'mutual' element is captured by the dual subject (we both share friendships with the object), but as Violet pointed out, the people we both know also know us too and so to capture the reflexive nature of our relationships with our mutually known friends we opted for arri-burrburren 'we (plural exclusive) all know each other' where -burrburren is the reflexive of -burrbun. So that was one translation down, another 90 to go!

One issue for many Australian languages in relation to this kind of translation is that the English terms do not overtly specify grammatical arguments— that is, who is doing what to whom. So when the Facebook button says '1 share' in English, a polysynthetic language such as Bininj Gunwok must specify who is doing the sharing because all verbs must have a prefix that shows this. Our translation then is "1 garri-djarrkgadjurren" where garri- is the first person plural inclusive participant prefix on the verb ('we all'), djarrk 'together' and -gadjurren 'share REFLEXIVE (with each other)'.

Another issue is anything to do with numeric or temporal quantification, so that '1 hour ago' or '6 minutes ago' is going to problematic in most Australian languages. The solution is to find some other equivalent for relative expressions of time such as 'just now, recently, long ago'. Another solution is to loan the English terms and combine them with the Bininj Gunwok terms thus 'gorrogo 5 hours' already [some time] 5 hours. We translated 'about an hour ago' as djal bolkki ba-bebmeng 'it just came out now/recently' where bolkki can mean 'now/today/soon/just now' (although a future reading is not possible because the verb ba-bebmeng is marked for past tense).

Other problems arise with culturally alien concepts such as 'accounts' so that 'account settings' is translated as:

yi-marnbun nawu ngudda ge 'fix/make those things relating to you'.

Whilst these kind of translations might seem semantically underspecified  at first, it doesn't take long for a user to learn the function associated with them. Likewise, "activity log" is ngaled yi-yimi 'what have you been doing'. Advertising comes out as a verb,gabarri-bayahme 'they purchase [things]' (it could equally have had a first person plural prefix). These may be issues to be dealt with once enough people are using the translation and thinking about any unsatisfactory aspects of the initial version.

Here are a selection of other translations in the list but note that the translations back into English are literal and designed to reveal something of the conceptual composition of the translation:

"Add Friend" Yi-ngeigurrme 'put a name'

"Add Photo / Video" Yi-bimgurrme 'put an image'

"APPS" nawu gabarri-dirri an-buiga 'other things they play with'

"Apps and Games" An-buihbuiga Gabarri-dirri 'assorted other things to play with'

"Careers" Yi-rrurrkmirri '2sg-work'

msgid "Change Cover" Yi-bimbularrbu An-buiga Yi-namen 'delete the image and place another one.'

"chat (offline)" Ngurri-wokmun.gewerren (ba-rromburrinj) 'send each other talk (turned off/not operating)'

"Close Friends" Darn.gi arri-ni adman 'we (excl.) who sit close'

"Comment" Yi-wokgurrmen 'put talk/a message'

"Create an Ad" Yi-marnbu ba gabarri-bayahme 'make it so people can buy [something]'

"Create a Page" An-buiga yi-marnbu 'make something else/another'

"Create Group..." Yi-marnbu bu Ngurri-djarrkwokdi... 'make it so that you all speak together'

"%d shares" %d arri-wokgadjurrinj '%d we have shared language'

"Edit Options" [Allows you to hide certain stories from your home page] Yi-wokwarlkkan '2sg-hide talk/language'

#.A link to a list of events that you've been invited to "Events" Garri-bengdaihgerren 'we (pl. incl.)-remind/notify each other'

"FAVORITES" NAWU YI-DJAREHDJARE 'things you really like'

"Find Friends" Yiban-ngalge bininj 'find people'

"Friend Requests" Nawu Ngundi-djawan Yiban-ngeigurrme 'those who are asking you to place their names'

"Friends" Nawu Yiban-burrbun 'those you know'

"groups" mirndewern 'groups'

"Life Event" Gorrogo Ba-yimerranj Ngudda-gen 'things that have happened in the past relating to you'

"Likes"-  Plural noun. Link that shows you a list of music, books, etc. you like on FB, Nawu a-djare 'that which I like'

Heading above your lists of friends ("Work", "Family", etc.) "LISTS" GABARRI-NGEIHNGEIDI 'they-name.name.stand'

"Map"  Bim nawu gun-bolkgen 'an image about places'

In the "New Message" dialog "Message:" Gun-wokgerrnge yi-mun.gewe: 'send a new message [talk]'

Link in bottom navigation. Click it to see additional links: Careers, etc. "More" An-buiga ga-djale 'other it-keeps.going'

"News Feed" Gabarri-yolyolme Gun-wok 'they are discussing stories [and] talk/news'

"PAGES" — it was decided not to translate this word yet. We will wait to see what other speakers might say.

"People who like this" Gabarri-ngeidi Nawu Gabarri-djare 'the names of those who like this lit: they-name.stand REL.pronoun they-like.it'

Link at the bottom of home page to Facebook's privacy policy "Privacy" Bu yiga minj yi-djare gabarri-nan 'if sometimes you don't want them to see'

"Privacy Settings" Yi-marnbun ba minj gabarri-nan 'fix/make it so that they cannot see'

"Profile" Djal Aye 'just me'. But I think this could also be Djal aye-gen 'just all about me'.

Box near the top of your personal timeline showing your recent actions on FB "Recent Activity" Njanjuk Yi-marnbom 'what have you done'. Again, I think this would be better as Njanjuk yi-djalmarnbuni (imperfective). 'what have you just been doing'. Needs more thought on getting the 'recent' element incorporated.

"Recommended Pages" Gubuyiga ngundi-bukkan 'they can show you things elsewhere'

Prompt when you comment on a post "Write a comment..." Yi-wokbimbu... '2sg-write.talk'.

When you share a link in a comment, use this to remove the preview image "Remove Preview" Yi-bimbularrbu 'remove image'

Option on every post on your personal timeline "Resize" Yi-marnbun an-gimuk dja an-yahwurd 'make it big and small'.

Link that appears under a post in another language; click it to translate "See Translation" Yi-nan ga-wokborledge 'see the language turned' (this is an established verb for 'translate').

Verb. A link that allows you to share a post with your friends "Share" Gabarri-nan rouk gun-wok ge 'they can see all of your talk'

"Timeline" Ga-rrungbelbbelbmerren 'the sun/time is sticking to itself'

Months of the year are joined with one of the six season names. These names do not consistently map on to names of the months but generally they are equivalent:

Gudjeuk January, Gudjeuk February, Bangkerreng March, Bangkerreng April, Yekke May, Yekke June, Yekke July, Wurrgeng August, Wurrgeng September, Gurrung October, Gurrung November, Gunumeleng December.

Are you interested in more about the underrepresentation of minority languages online? Have a look here.

Bonj That is all.


  1. http://Vaso%20Elefsiniotis says

    This is FANTASTIC! Both the news that we can translate facebook and the great explanation about how you've dealt with terms such as 'friends'! What a great website, THANKS

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