Page:Australian race - vol 1.djvu/33

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
4
THE AUSTRALIAN RACE:

referred to above, and is mentioned by John Mathew, Esq., in a pamphlet published by him in connection with the Kabī language.

The languages of Australia are in the main soft, vocalic, and melodious. They all contain, however, in very different degrees, sounds difficult for an Englishman to pronounce. In some, the sound of ch seems to be absent, but is certainly found in two-thirds of them, and abounds in many. In like manner, r, as an initial, is hardly present, if at all, in many of our languages, but is common in others. In the Bangerang tongue, I remember no word beginning with r, with the exception of raityo=mussel; and I used to notice that the Bangerang, for Mr. Richard, said Mitta Itchen; for rabbit, trerebat; and for Rapid (the name of a dog), Lappit. As a terminal sound, this letter is rolled out in some districts with great force and harshness. On this subject, Ridley, in his Kamilaroi, remarks that, to avoid this sound, we colonists have changed the aboriginal names Yarr and Wolgerr into Yass and Walgett. There is also a certain nasal sound, common to all our languages, to express which ng is usually employed. It is likewise noticeable that, though the sound of s does not exist in our languages, our Blacks have no difficulty in saying massa for master.

In taking down vocabularies from the Blacks, it is often difficult to decide whether certain sounds should be expressed by b or p, others by d or t, and others by k or g, nor is it possible, as far as my experience goes, to make the Blacks aware of these distinctions of sound. The different individuals of a tribe do not always exactly agree in their pronunciation. Amongst the Bangerang, for instance, some would say enbena, others yenbena; some yoorta, others yorta; some ooraialum, and others ngooraialum. In such of the vocabularies found in this work as have been collected personally by the writer and his son, the vowels a, e, i, and o are of the same value as in Italian; the oo is equivalent to the Italian u; and the u is pronounced as in