Australian Aboriginal Words in English: their origin and meaning

Dixon, R.M.W., Moore, Bruce, Ramson, W.S., and Thomas, Mandy (2006) Australian Aboriginal Words in English: their origin and meaning. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

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Abstract

Words like boomerang and woomera, kangaroo and koala, mallee and mulga are quintessentially Australian. Australian Aboriginal Words in English is the definitive account of the history of these and other words borrowed from Aboriginal languages into English. It is also a fascinating insight into the contracts between the first Australians and the European settlers. In 1788 there were some 250 languages in use in Australia. This book begins with a general account of the nature and history of Aboriginal languages, and with profiles of those languages that have been most significant as sources of borrowings. The words are then grouped according to subject - birds, fish, flora, religion, implements, dwellings, and so on. For each word there is an entry, like that in a dictionary, giving the language the word comes from, the original pronunciation and meaning in that language, the date of its first written use in English, and its present meaning. Illustrative quotations are given in many instances.

This second edition of the book has been fully revised, adding more than 30 new words and bringing the book fully up to date with contemporary scholarship. Chapter 6 - on the way English words have taken on new meanings and forms to describe Australia's indigenous inhabitants - is completely new.

Research Background: This book is based on decades of studies of Australian Aboriginal languages by R. M. W. Dixon, and lexicographic work by Moore and Ramson within the OED Australia. The book begins with a general account of the nature and history of Aboriginal languages, and with profiles of those languages that have been most significant as sources of borrowings. This is a second edition of the book fully revised, adding more than 30 new words and bringing the book fully up to date with contemporary scholarship. Chapter 6 - on the way English words have taken on new meanings and forms to describe Australia's indigenous inhabitants - is completely new.

Research Contribution: This book is the definitive account of the history of numerous words borrowed from Aboriginal languages into English. It also provided insights into contacts between the first Australians and the European settlers. This new and thoroughly revised edition is supplied with scientific labels for each entry. It is highly innovative in that it provides a comprehensive analysis of words borrowed from Aboriginal languages into English and their meanings. It offers a new perspective on contact between the indigenous population and white Australian settlers reflected in the language.

Research Significance: This book represents a new milestone in the explorations of the influence of Australian Aboriginal languages on English, and in the investigation of language and culture interaction since the White Invasion of Australia. Major significance of this book lies in its encyclopaedic breadth and width. It is a unique resource, for linguists, anthropologists and anyone interested in Australian languages and culture. This book received laudatory reviews in journals, and was reissued several times, reflecting its appreciation by the public.

Item ID: 16629
Item Type: Book (Reference)
ISBN: 978-0-19-554073-4
Date Deposited: 22 Nov 2011 03:50
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2004 Linguistics > 200407 Lexicography @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9503 Heritage > 950302 Conserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture @ 50%
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