Page:Australian race - vol 1.djvu/23

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xiv
INTRODUCTION.

surrounded those of the several Bangerang septs. From these he learnt that the latter people were encircled by a number of tribes, which spoke related languages, which differed materially from theirs. The result of this little discovery was, not only to sweep away some loosely-formed ideas about the migrations of our tribes, but to convince the writer that something positive might be learnt from language in connection with the past history of the Australian race. Then came curiosity, and without any view to publication (for it was understood at the time that Mr. R. Brough Smyth had been long engaged on the subject, which was afterwards found not to be the case), the writer got a vocabulary printed of a few common English words, which he managed to get filled up by stock-owners here and there, other facts new to him becoming apparent from the collation of his little collection. As he now commenced to discover some order in what had heretofore appeared a mere jumble of related tongues, the inquiry grew to have a certain fascination for him. Finding it necessary, if curiosity was to be satisfied, to extend inquiry, the writer addressed himself to the several Colonial Governments, the press, and a number of stock-owners, and asked their assistance in the collection of materials for the undertaking which he had begun to contemplate. As the inquiry progressed, the original words were altered two or three times, and to the last list were added God, ghost, boomerang, hilly, milk, eaglehawk, wild turkey, and wife, a circumstance which will account for their being untranslated in many of the vocabularies.

As raisons d'être for this publication then, it may be pointed out that when the author drifted into his undertaking, many tribes were passing away, leaving no record behind them, and no one seemed likely to step in and do