Page:Ethnological studies (Roth).djvu/21

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ETHNOLOGICAL STUDIES

AMONG THE

NORTH-WEST-CENTRAL QUEENSLAND ABORIGINES.

CHAPTER I.

THE SPOKEN LANGUAGE OF THE PITTA-PITTA ABORIGINALS: AN ELEMENTARY GRAMMAR.

Contents.—Section 1. Where Spoken. 2. Geographical Limits of the Boulia District 8. Pronunciation. 4. Gender, Number, and Person. 5. Personal Pronouns—Nominative. 6. Personal Pronouns Objective—Direct Object. 7. Personal Pronouns Objective—Indirect Object. 8. Auxiliary Verbs. 9. Indefinite Articles. 10. Personal Pronouns—Possessive. 11. Nouns—Nominitive. 12. Nouns—Vocative. 13. Nouns—Possessive. 14. Nouns—Objective. 15. Nouns—Plural and Dual. 16. Nouns—Gender. 17. Verbs—Active: The Indicative. 18. Verbal Pronouns. 19. Verbs—Active: The Imperative. 20. Adjectives. 21. Adverbs. 22. Prepositions—Motion. 23. Prepositions—Rest. 24. Prepositions—Purpose, Reason, Means. 25. Prepositions—Time. 26. Conjunctions. 27. Comparison of Adjectives. 28. Comparison of Adverbs. 29. Verbs—Active: The Infinitive. 30. Verbs—Special Forms of the Future. 31. Verbs—Special Forms of the Imperative. 32. Verbs—Reflexive. 33. Special Forms of Transitive and Intransitive Verbs. 34. Relative Pronouns. 35. Interrogative Pronouns. 36. Numerals, &c. 37. Ideas of Quantity and Size. 38. Ideas of Time. 39. Ideas of Place, Direction, and Distance. 40. Interrogation—Doubt and Uncertainty. 41. Notes of Exclamation, &c. 42. Participles and Perfects. 43. Introduction to the Pitta-Pitta Vocabulary. 44. Pitta-Pitta Vocabulary.

1. The Pitta-Pitta language is spoken mainly at Boulia, the chief encampment of the Pitta-Pitta blacks, as well as throughout the surrounding neighbourhood wherever any of their members may be scattered. It bears intimate relationship, as will subsequently be shown, to several other languages in close proximity, and ought rather to be considered in the light of one particular dialect out of many which together constitute the language of the Boulia district. Though the exact ethnographical limits of such a district must necessarily prove a matter of some difficulty, there is nevertheless a certain portion of country know to the Pitta-Pitta aboriginals as the "ooroo-ena mie-ena"—i.e., "one-and-the-same country"—throughout which the various dialects spoken by the different tribes are pretty similar, and more or less mutually intelligible.

2. For present purposes, therefore, the Boulia District will be understood as comprising the area bounded:—On the north by Buckingham Downs, Mount Merlin, and Chatsworth; on the east by Tooleybuck country and Springvale; on the south by Cluny, Bedouri, and Sandringham; on the west by Carlo (vel Mungerebar) and Glenormiston (vel Idamea) country. In other words, it includes the district drained by the Hamilton, Burke, Wills, King's Creek, Upper Mulligan, Cottonbush Creek, and Middle Georgina Rivers, and measures approximately about 10,000 square miles.

3. The following Spelling, upon an English basis, has been adopted throughout the text. Unfortunately, it was not until after I had taken my departure from Boulia that I learnt of the "continental" system now being followed in the old country. The vowel-sounds used are represented by—
ǎ = more of the sound of a short u, as in womanly. (Except in two or three proper names, the Pitta-Pitta blacks have no open-sounded short a as in can.)

ā = fate ă = tar ě = bet ē = feet
ǐ = bit ĭ = bite ǒ = got ō = mote
ǔ = mud ū = new oo = boot ou = cow
oy = boy

The consonant-sounds used are expressed by b, c, d, g, j, k, l, m, n, p, r, t, and w. There is no aspirate.
c is only used in the softened form of cha.
g is pronounced hard; it is often indistinguishable from k.
b with p, and d with t, is often interchangeable.

Accentuation is expressed by a syllable being printed in italics.