Page:Diary of ten years.djvu/452

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PREFACE.

personally with the natives, in which way any peculiarities of structure may be easily acquired. A sentence of the Western Australian dialect would run much in this way, if rendered with perfect literal accuracy.—"I to-day, at sunrise, in forest walking, male kangaroo far off saw; I stealthily creep, near, near; male kangaroo eats, head down low; I rapidly spear throw—heart strike—through and through penetrate. Male kangaroo dead falls; good—yes, it is true; I good throw—good very." The grammatical construction appears to be inartificial and elementary, as might naturally be expected amongst so rude a people, and wholly free from that startling complexity of form (especially as regards the verbs) which has been attributed to the Sydney language in Threlkeld's Grammar.

It seems, indeed, scarcely credible that the most artificial forms of speech should belong to the very rudest state of society; and that the least civilised people in the world should have refinements of phrase, and niceties of expression, which were wholly unknown to the most polished nations of classical antiquity.

A work of the nature of this Vocabulary may be of great service in a variety of ways. To those who have relatives in the colony, it will show something of the manners and language of the people, and the nature of the country where their friends reside. To the emigrant it will give such preparatory information as may smooth many of the difficulties in his way. It will enable the actual settler to communicate more freely with the natives, and thus to acquire and extend an influence amongst them, and frequently to gain important information regarding the localities and resources of the country. To the philologist, it affords an opportunity for the