Page:Australian race - vol 1.djvu/24

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xv
INTRODUCTION.

what was necessary for ethnology. Besides, the vocabularies which were actually in print at the time did not perhaps exceed 40, and were of little use for comparison, in consequence of the want of agreement in the words they contained. In this way, in the absence of some one fitter, the writer found himself on the threshold of an ethnological work, touching the inhabitants of a large portion of the earth's surface, without any previous preparation. This want of training and more still perhaps of sufficient leisure, will, it is hoped, be some excuse for any short-comings.

Of what the writer has to say of the origin of our tribes, he has much pleasure in acknowledging that his inquiry on this point was suggested by a paper read before the Anthropological Institute, London, by Mr. Hyde Clarke, one of the Vice-Presidents of that body, in which he drew attention to certain affinities between the Mozambique and Australian languages. In addition, the writer is under no small obligation to that gentleman for the kindly interest he has evinced in this undertaking.

In some instances the writer has not hesitated to insert two versions of the same vocabulary. In doing so he has had several objects in view, for instance, to show the areas over which our languages prevail and also their minor dialectic differences. Another reason has been that the Australian languages have not unfrequently two words in the same sense, whilst few of the writer's contributors have given more than one. Of this lâche, indeed, no one has been more frequently guilty than the writer himself, who, however, it will be remembered, collected the vocabularies which appear with his name to them before he had any thoughts of publication, and when he only took a minor interest in the subject. This defect a variety of versions will to some extent remedy. Besides, on many