Page:Australian race - vol 1.djvu/34

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5
ABORIGINAL LANGUAGES.

fun. The sound of the English i in light is expressed by ai. Mr. M. Moorehouse, Inspector of Aborigines, who published a work in 1846 entitled A Vocabulary and Outline of the Grammatical Structure of the Murray River Language, speaks of the sound of the French u existing, but I never recognized any approach to that sound from the lips of an Australian Aboriginal. In almost all cases my contributors have spelt their vocabularies from the English point of view, but in many instances I have substituted my own method.

Included in this work will be found vocabularies from almost all parts of the continent, so far as it has yet been occupied by the Whites; in other words, from something like half of its area, two-thirds of its coast line included. From these vocabularies we find that the whole of the Australian languages are pretty nearly as intimately connected as Spanish and Portuguese; that they are all descended from a common source. It is, however, necessary to point out in connection with the few vocabularies obtained from Port Darwin, Cape York, and the intervening country, that these specimens—some of them very fragmentary—are sufficient to show that, whilst they have undoubtedly affinities with the general run of Australian tongues, they depart so far from otherwise universal characteristics as to lead to the inference that some special linguistic disturbance has occurred in the portion of the coast where they are spoken. This disturbance would seem, from the inland vocabularies I have obtained, to have been confined to the coast. The glossarial evidence of these languages being Australian in root is supported by the fact that no non-Australian features have been detected in them. It should also be noticed that, like the rest of our languages, the sounds of f s, x, and z are not found in them. The customs of the tribes who speak these languages are further evidence of their being, in the main, Australian.

The African affinities of our languages will be considered in the chapter which treats of the Origin of the Australian