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Anika has written in to the blog about a name she is considering but is unsure about. Her husband’s family is Indigenous Australian, one side being from the Wakka Wakka people of south-east Queensland. They have been told of a name Mirri Yannan meaning “falling star”, but it is from a language of northern New South Wales.
Anika adores the name Mirri, and its meaning of “star”, and would love to use it. However, when she did a search for the name, the meaning of “dog” was returned by Google. She doesn’t like the idea of her daughter thinking her name means dog, and now she’s not sure about it.
This is an issue I raised in my article about Australian Aboriginal names – there are lots of Aboriginal languages, and a word may mean something pleasant in one language, and less appealing in another. For example, Merinda can be taken from a Sydney-area language meaning “beautiful”, but in South Australia it means “leech”. This isn’t unique to Australian languages. Pippa is becoming a popular name in the English-speaking world as a short form of Phillipa, but in Swedish it is vulgar slang for “to have sexual intercourse”, while in Italian it means “masturbate, hand job”.
I read through some dictionaries and language guides in regard to the word mirri. It does mean “dog” in the Ngiyampaa and Wiradjuri languages of New South Wales. Mirri also means “face” in the Paakantyi language from New South Wales, and “sun” in the Gooniyandi language of northern Western Australia. So it has several meanings in different Australian languages.
I tracked it down in a dictionary from the Kamilaroi or Gamilaraay people from northern New South Wales. Their word for star is mirii, and mirii yanan means “shooting star” (meteor).
So I think you have a couple of options open to you. You could use Mirri or Mirii, which is said exactly the same way (I rang the very helpful Visitors Centre and asked).
If you are truly bothered by mirri meaning “dog” in another language, then mirii sounds like the solution to your dilemma, as well as being the word you were originally looking for.
I think Mirii makes an extremely pretty name for a girl, and I love its meaning of “star”. I hope you use the name, in whichever form you like best and feel most attracted to.
(Some information in the article from Macquarie Aboriginal Words, published 2006)
thanks to you for sharing
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Anika, my post may be way over due seeing as I have found this post 3 months later than the last comment and truth be told, I haven’t read any of the previous comments because the author of the blog, and the last commenter seems super ignorant… but I thought I’d comment anywat… seeing as you have mentioned the area your man is from, wouldn’t you ask his family for name recommendations or possibly people from his area for traditional names, e.g., elders from his local community. You have an Indigenous Australian name yourself (I am an Indigenous Aussie), have you taken into consideration what your own name means,where your parents got it from and also the fact that there is not one “Aboriginal language” because there are hundreds of languages within Australia which no doubt your BF/husband or his family would have told you. I understand the stolen gen becausae I have aunts and cousins who were stolen. I apologise if I sound a bit rude or ignorant in my own sense, but if you have a wealth of knowledge in your partners family, use it if you can…
Anna! You are an absolute MIRII!!!!! You have made my day – and I feel confident in using this name now – also, there was a website I found that you typed the childs name and a certificate with the name meaning comes up (namescertificate.com) and interestingly the name Miriyan was the word for STAR on this site – so there is definitely some connection there. Just to let you know, we have decided on Bella Mirii for her name which means “Beatiful Star” in both Italian (one of our favourite travel desitinations) and Aboriginal. We would also like to use this name to honor her grandmothers and great mothers (one of whom passed while I was pregnant with her and was an amazing aboriginal woman). I cant thank you enough for you help with this, thank you so much, Anika
p.s – I made a few spelling mistakes in the last comment! Sorry – I was so excited to find confirmation of the word meaning!!
Oh Anika, I’m so glad you’re going to use it, and Bella Mirii is very pretty! That’s one great name story you’ve got for your daughter when she arrives.
(Don’t worry about any sp. mistakes).
Oh another thing – I have also come across the name Turaku for a boy – meaning comet…most sites i check online seem to confirm this – have you heard of this name…Star for a girl, and Comet for a boy, seems very cool and was something we may consider down the track too!
I will add it to my “To Do” list. 🙂