Page:Ethnological studies (Roth).djvu/22

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There can be little doubt that the absence of certain consonants, and various peculiarities of pronunciation, are due to the mutilation of the vocal apparatus, separately or conjointly, in the avulsion of the two upper incisor teeth (sect 177) and the perforation of the nasal septum (sect. 175), the constant use of the nose-pin producing increased dilation of the nostrils. The circumstance that an aboriginal in this district is unable to utter the sounds of f, th, or v is incontestably due to the former defect, which may also account for the total absence in the language of all true sibilants, such as c (soft), s, z, although the sounds of ch and sh can be well expressed. He can pronounce shirt quite correctly, but when he comes fish he calls it bish or pish, and speaks of a woman's husband or Fancyman or her Benjamin: he can only feebly imitate the sounds of size and the. On the other hand, a native who has not been so mutilated can articulate all the above fairly well. It is further probable that the true pronunciation of the initial ng in the first and second personal pronouns, and a few other words, also depends upon physical peculiarities. The nearest, though far from absolute, approach to this sound is the ng of sing, without a trace of the guttural tacked on to the succeeding syllable, but, even after months' careful practice, I have personally failed in giving it its proper utterance; its orthographical significance, unless very marked as in the first and second personal pronouns, has been omitted in the text. Except in the case of pronouns and personal nouns, which are fully analysed as they occur, the component syllables, accentuation, &c., of all words noted as being used in the Boulia District are described in the Pitta-Pitta vocabulary, which should be freely consulted (sect. 44), otherwise all words will be found in the main index.

4. There are three Numbers—singular, dual, and plural. In connection with the dual it is interesting to note that the Pitta-Pitta aboriginals reckon by twos—that is, on a dual notation as compared with the European decimal one; instead of the ten fingers they have only reached the stage of grouping with the two hands.

The sign of the dual would appear to be -lǐ or -lǎ, which can be recognised throughout the series of pronouns (sect. 5, 6, 7, &c.) in the dual imperative of the verbs (sect. 19, 31) in the word "pakoo-la" (=two), &c.

Each number has three persons, the third having two forms of the gender—one for the masculine and neuter, the other for the feminine. Furthermore, both genders have additional inflexions in the form of suffixes according as the person or object referred to is either (a) close up in front, or at side of, (b) close up at the back of, or (c) anywhere yonder, at some distance away from—the person speaking. In the first case (a) an additional variation takes place according as present and past, or future, time is referred to. Hence, the third person has six inflexions at least in the singular, three in the dual, and three in the plural: they are made up as follows:—

Number. Proximity to Speaker's Front or side. Proximity to Speaker's Back. Remoteness anywhere from Speaker.
—— -ī-ě or -yě in present or past
time; -ū in future time.
-kǎ in all tenses. -â-rǐ in all tenses.
sing. m. n.
" f
he, it, this
she, this
these two, both these
these all
he, it, this
she, this
these two, both these
these all
he, it, that, yonder.
she, that, yonder.
those two, both those, yonder.
all those, yonder.

The special indication for proximity close to one's back is paralleled by the London "coster" pointing his thumb over his shoulder.

5. Personal Pronouns—Nominative.

Like other personal pronouns, these are inflexed according as they refer to present and past, or to future, time. In the latter, the suffix -ng-o, peculiar to