Notes on a Comparative Table of Australian Languages

George Taplin
1872 The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland  
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more » ... s G. TAPLIN.-Notes on a Comparative Table lectual faculties are developed; and as they agree well with the condition of the Australian aborigines, we may suppose that they represent one of the earliest stages in the progress of mankind towards that high culture which is exhibited by the European. The following notes were taken as read: VII.-NOTES on a COMPARATIVE TABLE of AUSTRALIAN LAN-GUAGES. By the REV. GEORGE TAPLIN, Superintendent of the Native Industrial Settlement at Port Macleay, Lake Alexandrina, South Australia. THIS table has been constructed so as to correspond as nearly as possible with the comparative table of Polynesian and Melanesian dialects found in Dr. George Turner's work, " Nineteen Years in Polynesia." The sounds of the letters are adopted from the orthography recommended by the Royal Geographical Society. The consonants are to be sounded as in English, except that g is invariably hard. The vowels are to be sounded, for the most part, as in the following English words: a as in father; e as in there, they; ei has the sound of long i; i as in fatigue; o as in old; ow as in cow, now; u as in rude; and oo as in moon. Y is sometimes used for long i, as in pyabed; ng at the beginning of words is a common nasal sound in all Australian languages; dl and ny are also found at the beginning of words; y at the beginning of a word or syllable has a consonantal sound, as yarra, goyarra. As this table has been compiled from various sources, I have endeavoured to get as much uniformity of sound as possible, and have altered the spelling for this purpose, where I felt warranted in doing so. A singular uniformity will be observed in the words for hand, eye, tongue, and blood-especially the first three; and in a less degree for the word mouth. There is also a great uniformity in the word for seeing. The personal pronouns exhibit great uniformity, with two remarkable exceptions; viz., the Port Philip and Wimmera dialects. Of course, I cannot speak positively of all the dialects; but those I have examined have led me to conceive it probable that in Australian languages the verb has only a participial form; for instance, that tangulun ap means I standing, and not the indicative I stand; that mempin atte means by me striking, and not I strike; and that nakkir ap means I having seen, and not I saw. I know this is the case with the language of the Narrinyeri tribes, because they are continually using the present tense as an adjective. The word memp means strike (im-This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192.168.52.76 on Mon, 3 Dec 2012 10:41:17 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions of Aitstralian Languages. S5 perative); but it is not ngape memp==I strike, but memrpin ap-I striking. I think it probable that the aboriginal languages may be divided into two classes. The aborigines evidently belong to two races-one like the Eastern Polynesians, and the other like the Western, or Melanesians. One race has straight hair and a lighter complexion; the other has curly hair, and is darker. And perhaps the characteristic of the languages of the former race may be monosyllabic pronouns, and of the latter race polysyllabic pronouns. This would correspond with the distinction which exists between the same parts of speech in Polynesia and Melanesia. It will be observed that there are many omissions in some of the lists of words. This arises from the persons who collected them not having ascertained the words for those omitted. And I may remark that the omissions of writers of vocabularies are often very unaccountable. Words of the commonest kind are omitted. For instance, Meyer, in his vocabulary of the Encounter Bay dialect of the Narrinyeri, has omitted the word for " small", muralappi, and yet he evidently understood the language well. As it may be desirable to give a sketch of the grammar of an aboriginal language, I proceed to append some account of the grammar of the language of the Narrinyeri. 1. This language is called Yarildewallin. 2. There are no articles in this tongue. 3. Nouns are declined in the singular, dual, and plural numbers. There are six cases of nouns. The following is the declension of the noun korni, "a man SINGULAR.
doi:10.2307/2841150 fatcat:vhklyfjh35h2rcbphfboqwmuxi