Page:Aboriginesofvictoria02.djvu/19

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3
LANGUAGE.

An examination of the words in the vocabularies shows that there are numerous equally remarkable dialectical transitions of consonants.

H is sounded clearly and sharply at the end of a word, often like R, as in Lah and Lar (a stone), and Wah and War (a crow).

In such words as Korak, Drae, and Merang, the sound of R is rough, rolling, and strong.

Ng has a nasal sound, which it is not easy for Europeans to imitate.

There are no sibilants in the native tongue; no articles; and, it is supposed, no distinctions in gender (with certain exceptions noticed by Mr. [[Author:Lancelot Edward Threlkeld|Threlkeld.[1]

There are dual forms of speech.

There are interrogative pronouns.

The plural is usually formed by placing a numeral before the substantive, the substantive not changing its form except for euphony. This, however, is not the rule in all dialects.

The numerals are "one" and "two," other numbers being expressed by combinations of the words expressing "one" and "two;" but this rule again is not of universal application. In some dialects it is said that there are distinct and separate words for "three," " five," and " seven."

Suffixes are used.

There are no terms to express abstract ideas.

A great many words are onomatopoeic in their origin.

Sign-language is used.

Words originating in sounds which the words themselves are intended to imitate are probably very numerous in all the languages and dialects, but the changes which the several tongues have undergone during a long lapse of time may prevent the discovery of the origin of many of these roots.

A few words which are undoubtedly onomatopoeic will suffice to show that a thorough examination of the Australian languages would result in valuable acquisitions to philology:—

Crow - . - Wa-ak or Waugh. Magpie - - - Koorabaukoola. Mopoke - - - Wook-ook. Dove - - . Koorookookoo. Plover - , - Petereet or Perret-perret. (English, Pewet.) Cat - , _ Urn, or Yurn, or Yoorn. Thunder - - - Woon-duble, or Drumbullabul, or Mun-der, or Mooroobri. Laugh - - - Kinka. (English, Kitik.) Coughing (of one 1 i^ j . 7 having a cold) j Koondrakondroo. Teeth - . . Leah or Teera.

Tongue - - - Tallang.

  1. Mr. Bulmer, who is a keen observer and well acquainted with the languages spoken on the Murray and in Gippsland, informs me that in one of the dialects of the Murray the blacks will say to a man Parragia ("you lie"), and to a woman Purragaga ("you lie"). Will the peculiarities of the dialects ever be known?