Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/308

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DR. HOWITT'S DEFENCE OF GROUP-MARRIAGE.

BY N. W. THOMAS.

One of the main difficulties of controversy is to get an intelligible reply to a criticism, and this is nowhere more true than in the sphere of anthropology. Especially in the field of social organisation are misunderstandings frequent; at the root of most of them lie "terminological inexactitudes." In dealing with totemism some authorities use all terms interchangeably; the terminology of marriage is equally vague, and the term "group-marriage" is applied to two forms of sexual relations which should be kept entirely distinct, if logical fallacies and complete failure to deal with the real points at issue are to be avoided. In his recent communication,[1] Dr. Howitt, in a reply to Mr. Lang, treats pirrauru marriage as identical with group-marriage; he speaks of tippa-malku marriage as an encroachment on the pirrauru group right; and finally asserts the former existence of group-marriage wherever the classificatory system of relationship is in use. The classificatory system, however, is not more closely connected with the pirrauru system than with tippa-malku marriage, and the validity of Dr. Howitt's identification of the pirrauru relation with the kind of group-marriage for whose former existence he argues may justly be challenged.

In certain tribes of the Lake Eyre district—the Dieri, the Kurnandaburi, and the Urabunna—individual marriage,

  1. Folklore, xvii, 174 sq.