Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/318

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304 Dr. Howitfs Defence of Group- Marriage.

which show that ttgaperi and ngaperi waka do not refer to physiological fatherhood. Yet Dr. Howitt cites the distinction as parallel to the Kurnai distinction between the " actual " and " nominal " husbands of a woman ; in other words, he makes two cases parallel, though in one of them the terms refer to the status within the family, both ngaperi being possible fathers, in our sense, of the child, whereas in the other case the difference in termin- ology means that the imingan is the husband of the child's mother, while the breppa imingan is merely a man of the same tribal status who has no marital rights over the mother. Thus Dr. Howitt has been guilty of a grave confusion in his statement of the case against Mr. Lang's view.

But putting this aside — and I have cited it merely as an example of the errors from which first-hand knowledge will not save one — What does Dr. Howitt's contention at this point amount to ? He admits that thundnng and the corresponding Kurnai terms include all men of a certain tribal status, and the legitimate inference from this, if the philological argument is trustworthy, is that we have to do with an Undivided Commune, though, as we have seen. Dr. Howitt shrinks from this conclusion. Dr. Howitt himself admits that tribal status and not relationship, as we understand it, is expressed by these terms ; yet although he declines to interpret the Kurnai terms in the same way as those of the other tribes, he insists that his interpretation of the terms of these other tribes is the only possible one ; that anyone who declines, as does Mr. Lang, to accept this interpretation, is a mere theorist, an ethnologist of the study, who shows his ignorance at every turn and yet will not take the opinions of first-hand observers. If Dr. Howitt may decline to draw the logical inference from the Kurnai fraternal terms, why may not Mr. Lang decline to draw from the terms of the other tribes the inference which he regards as illogical?