Let’s have a look at what this means. We’ll start by making a sentence with three words:
Let’s say that the boy kicked the horse and not the other way round. How do we make clear in English that it was the boy who did the kicking?
We do that with the order of the words. The doer of the sentence is mentioned first:
“The boy kicked the horse.”
If we mention the horse first, the meaning of the sentence changes:
“The horse kicked the boy.”
This looks obvious, and people who speak English might see it as natural. But it’s not. In Guugu Yimithirr the doer of a sentence is marked with the ending –ngun. Once the doer is marked that way, we can scramble the sentence, and the meaning remains the same.